F1: Rosberg takes a massive step towards the title

Nico Rosberg won Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix
Nico Rosberg won Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg took a massive step towards the FIA Driver’s Championship with victory in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The Mercedes AMG Petronas driver now has a 33-point advantage over his Brackley team-mate Lewis Hamilton who finished third.

Rosberg made a clean sweep of the race weekend, ending up first in each practice session and taking pole before securing his 23rd career Formula One victory and his ninth of the season. Rosberg beat Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for his first victory at Suzuka, where Mercedes clinched the FIA Constructor’s Championship.

Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez finished a frustrating 11th and 20th, respectively at the Suzuka Circuit.

Grosjean began the race from seventh and Gutiérrez rolled off in tenth, the best collective starting position for the Banbury team this season.

Grosjean was pushed wide at the start by the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg, which dropped him to ninth but Gutiérrez held his position and slotted in behind his team-mate.

Gutiérrez’s race was made even more difficult when he spun on lap 20 at the entrance to the Casio Triangle when Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Junior attempted a block.

Gutiérrez promptly recovered and, along with Grosjean, they set their sights on making strong, consistent laps. When Williams team-mates Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas pitted on laps 24 and 28, it allowed Grosjean to rise to ninth and Gutiérrez to climb to 14th.

By lap 33 after pit stops had cycled through, Grosjean was 11th and Gutiérrez was 20th. That’s how it finished despite Grosjean pressuring Bottas in the final laps for tenth.

Jolyon Palmer finished 12th for Renault with Enstone team-mate Kevin Magnussen two places further back.

Seventeen rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points, maintaining its 19-point gap to seventh-place Toro Rosso and the 20-point advantage over ninth-place Renault.