Formula One: Mercedes' Nico Rosberg wins Japanese GP, widens championship lead

Nico Rosberg celebrating on the podium next to Max Verstappen (left) and Lewis Hamilton, at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Oct 9, 2016.
Nico Rosberg celebrating on the podium next to Max Verstappen (left) and Lewis Hamilton, at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka on Oct 9, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
Nico Rosberg winning the F1 Japanese Grand Prix.
Nico Rosberg winning the F1 Japanese Grand Prix. PHOTO: REUTERS

SUZUKA (Japan) (REUTERS) - Nico Rosberg won the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday to extend his lead over team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the World Championship.

The result moves him a step closer to a maiden drivers' title and he now as a 33-point lead over his fellow Mercedes driver with four races to go.

Hamilton, the reigning world champion, finished third, behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

The Briton had started second on the grid but a poor start saw him shoved down the order to eighth by the end of the first lap. He was then forced to fight his way back up through the field.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, who had qualified third, was forced to start the race in eighth after collecting a five-place penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

Instead, the 2007 world champion lined up alongside Romain Grosjean's Haas on the fourth row of the grid. The rules require a driver to use a single gearbox for six straight races. He eventually finished fifth.

Raikkonen's penalty allowed Verstappen and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to lock out the second row. The duo had scored the team's first one-two finish since 2013 in Malaysia last weekend. Ricciardo, who was hampered by a slow stop in the pits, was sixth.

Raikkonen's Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who started seventh having collected a grid penalty for shoving Rosberg into a spin at the start of the last race at Sepang, finished fourth.

Mercedes wrapped up the constructors' title, their third consecutive championship.