Nico Rosberg took his third consecutive pole at the Suzuka Circuit, while Lewis Hamilton joined him on the front row. Rosberg led the race from the start, while Hamilton had another bad getaway that put him into eighth place between the first and second corners. Fighting through the field, Hamilton tried to close on Max Verstappen, but Verstappen's change of direction in the braking zone at the Casio Triangle chicane on their penultimate lap caused Hamilton to take the escape road and remain behind Verstappen. Rosberg took his only win at the Suzuka Circuit, and the final win of his F1 career, extending the gap to Hamilton in the Drivers' Championship to thirty-three points. Verstappen finished in second place while Hamilton finished third, securing Mercedes their third constructors' title.
Going into the Japanese Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg still led the Drivers' Championship, this time twenty-three points ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, after an engine failure forced the latter to drop out of the previous race in Malaysia. Rosberg's third-place finish added fifteen points to his total points of the season, making it 288 points, while Hamilton stayed on 265. In the same race, Daniel Ricciardo's win put him onto 204 points. Sebastian Vettel's retirement from the Malaysian Grand Prix enabled Kimi Räikkönen to move up to fourth with 160 points, forty-four points behind Ricciardo. Without a 1-2 finish in Malaysia, Mercedes had not yet won the Constructors' Championship, but still led with 553 points. However, Red Bull's 1-2 finish scored at the same Grand Prix put them 294 points behind Mercedes, and 46 points ahead of Ferrari. Although Valtteri Bottas' fifth-place finish added another ten points to Williams' season, they did not move ahead of Force India due to the latter team's drivers both finishing in the top ten and getting twelve points altogether. Ultimately, Force India opened the gap slightly to just three points.
Vettel was given a three-place grid penalty to serve at Suzuka, after hitting Rosberg at the start of the race in Malaysia.
Soft tyres were selected alongside medium and hard tyres to be used for the Grand Prix. Mercedes and Sauber both chose eight sets of soft tyres for each of their drivers, Ferrari chose nine, Red Bull and Manor chose six, and the rest of the teams chose seven. Vettel was the only one to choose one medium set, also choosing three sets of hard tyres. Hamilton decided to use two medium sets and three medium sets, while Rosberg chose the opposite like in Malaysia. Many of the drivers chose three sets of mediums each; the Force India team, Räikkönen and Kevin Magnussen chose two sets of mediums each, while Felipe Massa, Manor and Esteban Gutiérrez chose four sets each. For the rest of the selected hard sets, Räikkönen, Massa, the Sauber team and Gutiérrez chose two sets each; Bottas, Jolyon Palmer, Carlos Sainz, Jr., McLaren, Manor and Romain Grosjean all chose three sets each; and the Red Bulls, Force Indias, Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat.
One day before Friday practice, Michael Schumacher's family revealed that his collection of karts, sports cars, trophies and F1 cars were to become available to the public at the Motorworld Koln-Rheinland classic car centre near Schumacher's hometown, Kerpen, at the end of 2017.
Hamilton used the engine he had used in Singapore, after Mercedes found out the reason for his engine failure in Malaysia, though Rosberg and the other drivers with Mercedes-powered cars would keep the engines they last used in Malaysia, but were given a precaution to keep an eye on their engine settings in future races. Rosberg was convinced that this would make engine failures less likely, and still keep the fight for the championship alive.