- Japanese GP - Race
Hamilton subdued after victory
Hamilton's turned in a superb drive, passing Nico Rosberg on lap 29 for a lead he never relinquished, but the race victory was overshadowed when Bianchi hit a recovery vehicle at Turn 7 on lap 42. The race was red-flagged a few laps later, with the FIA confirming Bianchi was unconscious after he had been taken to hospital by ambulance after the race.
The win, Hamilton's eighth of the season and third in a row, extends his championship lead over Nico Rosberg to 10 points, but he admitted that was the least of his concerns.
"Obviously, it's a great result for the team, but I think we're all very concerned about our colleague," Hamilton said. "I don't really know what to say but, obviously, it didn't finish the way we would have hoped, and my prayers are with [Bianchi] and his family. It was a great race [from a personal viewpoint]. Today with it raining so much it was very difficult conditions, we just hope Bianchi is OK."
Hamilton had stalked Rosberg for much of the race after the initial restart on lap 10, with the opening stages of the race being run under the safety car. He emerged behind Rosberg after his first pit stop but, after running wide at Turn 1, Hamilton made a move stick on lap 29, going on to pull clear of Rosberg in conditions he said were similar to his famous wet-weather win at Silverstone in 2008.
"[The pass] was fairly straightforward. I had a lot more pace than Nico, but it's not a very easy circuit to follow. Fortunately, I was able to get quite close through the final corner and I think he had a small oversteer moment at the exit. Obviously, the DRS allowed me to get alongside, and I was fairly confident with the balance of the car, so I put it there and stuck it out.
"After that, the whole approach changed because I [had been] attacking, attacking and, after that, I was taking different lines and approaching it differently. I really got into a groove and it was, in terms of feeling, very reminiscent of Silverstone 2008."
In the direct aftermath Hamilton said he did not think the conditions were dangerous enough to warrant a safety car or early stoppage, though he was only going on his own experience of driving the Mercedes out in front.
"No, I mean that's what they do all the time," Hamilton replied when asked if it was wrong to deploy the recovery vehicle Bianchi crashed into. "That's the normal protocol to get the car [of Adrian Sutil, who crashed the lap before] off the track. And it's a yellow flag so really under yellow flags you're supposed to have a big lift, especially under double yellow. Towards the end it started to rain a little bit more but it wasn't causing me any particular problems. Perhaps for others. It's so easy to lose temperature in these tyres if you slow down a bit and then it's really difficult. I don't really know what happened with the incident."