27 September 2015
F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Rosberg admits start cost victory
Nico Rosberg had pole, but could only finish second in the Japanese Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton fought through to claim another victory at Suzuka.
Nico Rosberg has confirmed that being muscled out of the lead of the Japanese Grand Prix at turn two cost him any chance of beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and closing the gap between them in the F1 world championship.
The German had qualified on pole position for only the second time this season, and appeared to make a reasonable getaway, but Hamilton – on the inside line – refused to yield and the pair ran side-by-side through turn one. When the Briton began to run wide through the second corner, Rosberg had nowhere to go and, as he took to the verge, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas wasted no time in getting past the Mercedes.
Rosberg admitted that there was little wrong with Hamilton's move, with the Briton understeering on cool tyres, but confirmed that his chances of victory were over just two corners into the 53-lap race.
“Lewis just got a better start – fair play. It was a good battle into turn one but, at turn two, he had the inside and just made it stick, so that was the end of it there. It got pretty close through turn two – I had to back out of it there and that cost me the race.”
Despite running in fourth place through the early stages of the race, Rosberg used the superior performance of the Mercedes, plus some canny pit strategy to overcome both Bottas and Vettel – passing the Finn into the chicane despite running the harder Pirelli at the time – to complete a Mercedes 1-2 on the podium, but admitted that coming home behind Hamilton was another blow to his hopes of landing a world title as he falls 48 points behind the reigning champion with five races remaining.
“It was great to fight back to second place because fourth would not have been acceptable,” he conceded, “Second was the best possible thing after that, so I was happy with the fightback and it's great for us as a team to be back up here after Singapore.
“The car is back to its best, which is reassuring after Singapore, and especially in qualifying, when it was a pleasure to drive. It was a pity to lose out at the start and around turns one and two and, for sure, it's going the wrong way [for the championship]. I had to win today - that was important - but it didn't work out, so I just need to try and win next time.”
Reflecting on why Rosberg's start was slower than Hamilton's Toto Wolff says a temperature issue contributed to him losing time off the line, allowing his team-mate to attack.
"The initial get away was good for both cars but Nico had a little issue with a hotter power unit and when it kicked in after a couple of seconds, he didn't have the same power as Lewis. We don't know if it is down to the driver."
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