Lewis Hamilton defended his overtaking move at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix that proved decisive in his eighth win of the Formula One season.
The Briton squeezed past his Mercedes team-mate in the opening seconds of Sunday’s race before pulling clear, while Rosberg slipped back to fourth behind Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.
With performance back on his side after disappointment in Singapore, Hamilton drove superbly to take the chequered flag by 18 seconds from the German ” extending his championship lead to 48 points.
Rosberg felt the manoeuvre was too close and forced him to back out to avoid a crash similar to the one at the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, but Hamilton saw no problems with the move.
“I didn”t really feel it was particularly that close,” he said. “But the inside line is the inside line, so I had my corner and so we were very, very close but I was basically understeering, I was running out of grip.
“I imagine Nico was running out of road, but that”s what happens when you’re on the outside.”
Hamilton’s triumph sees him equal Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 career wins, a record that left the 30-year-old emotional after the race.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he added: “I’m not a teary guy, but I’m full of joy and happiness today.
“I’m really grateful for, as I posted the other day, all the people who have helped me get to where I am today and this team, because without them I would not be here.”