Max Verstappen on the edge and ‘what if?’ for Kimi Raikkonen: Japanese Grand Prix talking points

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Graham Caygill was at Suzuka to witness the imperious form of Mercedes-GP, and how McLaren’s Honda engines struggled in front of the manufacturer’s home crowd.

Mercedes dominate

A 15th win in 17 races gave Mercedes-GP their third successive constructors’ title at Suzuka. They have been the class of the field again this year and Lewis Hamilton’s raw speed to fight from eighth place to finish third behind winner Nico Rosberg underlined their dominance.

Verstappen on the edge

It is a shame that the focus on Max Verstappen’s fine run to second place will be on his late lunge to the inside line on entry to the chicane on the penultimate lap to fend off Hamilton. It bordered on dangerous from the Red Bull Racing driver and detracts from another impressive performance.

‘What if?’ for Raikkonen

For a period mid-race the 2007 world champion was a second a lap faster than anyone else. He had qualified third, but a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change demoted him to eighth. The Finn had the pace to finish on the podium but had to settle for fifth.

Patience pays off for Williams

The opening half of the race was painful viewing as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas struggled for pace outside the top 10. But the decision to pace themselves and their tyres on a one-stop pit strategy was rewarded as they vaulted above the midfield runners in the second half of the race to take ninth and 10th respectively.

Reality check for McLaren

After the encouragement of Malaysia it was back to earth with a bump for the British team at their engine supplier Honda’s home race. The car lacked grip and the engine struggled for power, and 16th for Fernando Alonso and 18th for Jenson Button summed up a poor weekend.

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