Lewis Hamilton won his first Japanese Grand Prix to extend his lead in the Drivers' World Championship to 48 points over teammate Nico Rosberg. The German driver started on pole, but some aggressive driving from the Briton saw him being passed just out of Turn 1 on the opening lap, which was the only time anyone had a sniff at the race leader.
Rosberg started on pole, but Hamilton got to grips with his teammate going into Turn 1 and pushed his teammate wide, leaving him no space to maneuver, which saw Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas pass him to leave him in fourth place.
The German fought back first to overtake the Williams driver after the first round of pit stops and then set about catching Vettel. The Mercedes driver stopped a lap before the four-time drivers champion, but a fantastic out-lap saw the Mercedes driver emerge just ahead of the Vettel after he completed his second stop.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel came in third to continue his impressive run in his debut season with Ferrari, and he pushed Rosberg all the way to the chequered flag after giving up second place during the pit stops. Kimi Räikkönen had an incident-free race and made up a position in the pit stops to get ahead of Bottas to give the Maranello based team a healthy amount of Constructors points.
The Red Bull Racing team had a day to forget after Daniel Ricciardo suffered a tyre puncture on the opening lap after making contact with a slow starting Massa. The Brazilian also suffered damage, putting the duo at the back of the pack for most of the race. Daniil Kvyat, who started in the pit lane owing to his massive shunt in qualifying, struggled with break and tyre issues throughout the race, a disappointment after impressing in Singapore last time out.
There was plenty of overtaking in midfield with Force India, Lotus and Toro Rosso fighting for the final few points scoring positions. Nico Hülkenberg put in a great drive to finish in sixth place after starting in 13th due to a grid penalty. Max Verstappen, who was driving his final race as a 17-year-old, continued his impressive comeback drives to come through the field and finish in ninth ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz. The Lotus duo also finished in the points, and an eighth place finish is the best they have achieved since the Indian GP in 2014.
Felipe Nasr was the only retirement in the race, and it came on Lap 49. But the biggest shock and disappointment of the day was the struggling McLaren-Honda duo. They were being easily passed by the cars around them, and it left Fernando Alonso visibly frustrated, with the Spaniard screaming "GP2 engine! GP2 engine, aargh!!" after Marcus Ericsson went past him in the race. It could land the former Ferrari driver in some trouble with his team, especially since it was their home race.
Hamilton put in a flawless drive to extend his lead in the championship, and his form suggests that it will take a mammoth effort from Rosberg and Vettel to catch him before the end of the season. However, the drive of the day belonged Hülkenberg, who is back on form after a difficult weekend in Singapore. Next up is the Sochi International circuit on 11 October, and it is another track that will favour the Mercedes-powered cars.