- Valtteri Bottas secures the DHL Fastest Lap for first time this season
- The Finn gives Mercedes as engine manufacturers their 150th fastest lap in Formula 1
- Lewis Hamilton leads the DHL Fastest Lap Award
DHL Fastest Lap Predictor Game
Fastest Driver Group 1: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 1:33.144
Fastest Driver Group 2: Jolyon Palmer (Renault) - 1:34.095
Fastest Driver Group 3: Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) - 1:33.724
Valtteri Bottas takes DHL Fastest Lap at Suzuka
Mercedes took another big step forward in their title defense at the Japan Grand Prix. The Silver Arrows secured victory at Suzuka with Lewis Hamilton, who now has a 59-point lead on Sebastian Vettel and can clinch the title in the next race at Austin, Texas. Mercedes also have a comfortable lead of 145 points on Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
Hamilton battled with Max Verstappen for the win and received valuable cover to his rear from teammate Valtteri Bottas in the fight with the Red Bull driver. The Finn had lined up in sixth place after changing a gearbox and and getting a penalty. He decided, therefore, to deploy a different strategy to the other drivers competing up front.
Bottas started on the soft tire and thus drove a longer first stint than his fellow competitors. Hamilton and Verstappen had already pitted, and the Finn had both of them in his rear-view mirrors shortly before his tire change. While he was happy to see his team-mate overtake, Bottas closed the door on Verstappen, helping Hamilton to increase his lead over the Red Bull driver.
“We went through all of the scenarios before the race, so when Lewis caught up to me after his pit stop, of course, I tried to help him win,” explained Bottas. The Mercedes driver also finally came into the pits and switched to supersofts. Now on the softer of the two tire compounds, the Finn then subsequently began to hunt down Daniel Ricciardo and the podium.
Bottas managed to reel Ricciardo in, gradually whittling away the initial ten-second gap. While making his charge, the Mercedes driver took the DHL Fastest Lap on Lap 50 with a time of 1:33.144, yet it was not enough to catch Ricciardo. Bottas ultimately finished nine tenths down on the Australian and narrowly missed the podium.
“It was a close fight; especially in the end, I was getting closer to Daniel, but there just was not enough time anymore, and the VSC didn’t help either,” said Bottas, describing the closing stages of the race. “The pace seemed to be okay, but coming to this race, we always knew that overtaking would be tricky. Strategy was good for me today. It created a good opportunity in the end, otherwise it would have been really difficult to even get close.”
Fastest race laps: 2017 FORMULA 1 JAPANESE GRAND PRIX
01 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:33.144 - on Lap 50
02 Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) 1:33.175 - on Lap50
03 Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:33.694 - on Lap 52
04 Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) 1:33.724 - on Lap 49
05 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:33.730 - on Lap 51
06 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:33.780 - on Lap 43
07 Jolyon Palmer Renault) 1:34.095 - on Lap 50
08 Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) 1:34.533 - on Lap 45
09 Lance Stroll (Williams) 1:34.548 - on Lap 37
10 Sergio Pérez (Force India) 1:34.744 - on Lap 23
History: DHL Fastest Laps in the FORMULA 1 JAPANES GRAND PRIX
With his DHL Fastest Lap of 1:33.144, Valtteri Bottas secured the fastest race lap at Suzuka since 2009 when Mark Webber burned a time of 1:32.569 into the Japanese asphalt. Kimi Räikkönen, who set a 1:31.540 in his McLaren in 2005, still holds the track record at the Suzuka International Racing Course.
This was the second DHL Fastest Lap of his career for Bottas after taking his first in Russia in 2014 when still with Williams. For Mercedes as engine manufacturers, this was their 150th fastest lap in Formula 1 history.
Lewis Hamilton maintains lead in DHL Fastest Lap Award
Lewis Hamilton still has a comfortable lead in the overall standings of the DHL Fastest Lap Award. The Mercedes driver has posted seven fastest race laps so far this season. Sebastian Vettel is next up with three, followed by Kimi Räikkönen with two. Vallteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez have all set one DHL Fastest Lap.
Formula 1 will continue in Austin, Texas, in two weeks’ time when Hamilton could clinch the world championship and win the DHL Fastest Lap Award. Enter the DHL Fastest Lap Game for the 2017 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX and win great prizes!