BRITAIN’S Lewis Hamilton last night admitted that Jules Bianchi’s crash left him unable to enjoy a victory at the Japanese Grand Prix that tightened his grip on the drivers’ championship.
Hamilton overtook pole-sitting Mercedes team-mate and main title rival Nico Rosberg on lap 29 of a rain-hit race cut to 44 laps following Marussia driver Bianchi’s serious accident.
An eighth triumph of the season saw the 2008 world champion increase his lead over Rosberg in the drivers’ standings to 10 points with just three races remaining.
But the severe injuries suffered by Frenchman Bianchi at Suzuka tainted Hamilton’s progress towards a second title.
“Our first thoughts go to Jules,” he said. “It overshadows everything else when one of our colleagues is injured and we are praying for him. Next to this, the race result doesn’t seem significant at all.”
Hamilton has won the last three grands prix to usurp and then pull away from Rosberg with races in Russia, Brazil and Abu Dhabi still to come. His victory in Singapore last week, where Rosberg did not finish, saw him overtake the German and yesterday a three-point gap grew to 10.
Rosberg was second when Suzuka race organisers red flagged it for a second time, with compatriot and defending champion Sebastian Vettel, who it emerged on Saturday is to leave Red Bull at the end of the season, with Ferrari his likely destination, finishing third.
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 266
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes 256
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull 193
4. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 139
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari 133
6. Valtteri Bottas, Williams 130
7. Jenson Button, McLaren 82
8. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India 76
9. Felipe Massa, Williams 71