Rosberg wins Japanese Grand Prix to widen lead over Hamilton

Mercedes have withdrawn their protest against Max Verstappen over his defending of second place versus Lewis Hamilton at the Japanese GP.

Hamilton, through a combination of strategy and passing moves, progressed to third, before he attempted to overtake Max Verstappen at the chicane on the penultimate lap.

"The start went really well", Rosberg said. "I'm just happy to win the Suzuka race".

"The approach that I have at the moment is just coming here, focussing on the weekend and trying to get that win".

The German, who has a 23-point lead over Hamilton in the Formula One championship with five races to go, will start alongside his British foe on the front row as the two Mercedes continued to dominate in Suzuka.

"It's better that way than the other way round but it's still Lewis that's my teammate, so I always need to reckon with him", Rosberg said.

But his team boss Toto Wolff had no doubt that the Briton would regroup before the next race in Austin, Texas, where he sealed the title previous year with three rounds to spare. "There's still a long way to go".

Hamilton made an bad start from second on the grid, his vehicle struggling for grip on an area of track that was still damp from overnight rain, and he fell to eighth by the first corner.

And, probably, his world champion title shot gone for 2016 too.

Mercedes later lodged a formal protest against Verstappen, but Formula One's ruling FIA said an investigation will not take place until the next race in Austin, Texas in two weeks.

For Hamilton, winning this year's World Championship is now out of his control, because victories in the last four races would not necessarily be enough to overhaul Rosberg.

"It is not hard [not to think about the title] because Lewis is still my team-mate", Rosberg added.

"Lewis is fighting for the world championship, so you're not going to do insane things".

"I don't think the damp patch had anything to do with it, I made a mistake", Hamilton said. "It's been a week of a lot of work to get the vehicle right and there were some big changes so considering that I am happy to be as close as I am".

Rosberg has now secured pole in Japan for three successive seasons.

Rosberg raced to his ninth victory of this season at Suzuka on Sunday, extending his lead over Lewis Hamilton.

But Rosberg, who can equal Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel's record of 13 wins in a season if he triumphs at the remaining races, knows how quickly fortunes can turn.

Force India's Sergio Perez was seventh fastest and Haas driver Romain Grosjean was eighth, just ahead of the second Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.

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