Vettel and Verstappen collide in Japan

07 October, 2018, 11:22 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13

Hamilton can secure the title in Austin: Sunday's result gives Lewis Hamilton a 67-point lead over Vettel in the championship and means the championship is all but over. The win puts his fifth world championship firmly in his grasp.

His sixth-place finish meant he took just eight championship points, denting his hopes at closing down Mercedes man Hamilton in the title race.

Vettel's misfortune allowed 21-year-old Dutch driver Max Verstappen to qualify third for Red Bull.

But yet again this season, it was a weekend littered with costly mistakes, by team, and it's No 1 driver, Sebastian Vettel.

"It definitely does (add to the title momentum)", Hamilton said.

Lewis Hamilton has one hand, three fingers and a thumb on the world championship after romping to victory in Japan as his rival Sebastian Vettel finished a lowly sixth following a calamitous collision. Team-mate Valtteri Bottas completed an all-Mercedes front row. It will not necessarily be remembered as a classic but their ideal execution all weekend was an object lesson to Ferrari as to why their title hopes have been dashed.

Instead they made contact, with Vettel spun around.

Lewis Hamilton steers his Mercedes vehicle during the qualifying at the Suzuka Circuit. He took the flag at Fuji for McLaren in 2007 and has now won for Mercedes at Suzuka in four of the five races since 2014. The Briton won from pole in Japan previous year. The size of the gap between the top two teams and the speed in which it has been opened up over the last three races is still hard to comprehend, but underlines just how quickly Ferrari's season has unravelled.

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Vettel, who had started eighth after a failed tyre gamble in qualifying, was trying to pass the young Dutch driver for third place at the fast left-handed sweep of Suzuka's Spoon corner.

Suzuka was expected to provide a good measure of just how Ferrari and Mercedes now match up to one another and on this evidence Mercedes have clearly regained the advantage.

In contrast, Hamilton got it right from the start.

At the front of the queue now sitting between Ricciardo and the top four are Romain Grosjean and the two Toro Rossos of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly - and all three will be nervous about capitalising on opportunities on Sunday.

When he as asked whether he would try and overtake Verstappen in the future, Vettel said: "Do you ask him if he should think twice when he defends?"

Verstappen was already carrying a five-second penalty for forcing Vettel's team mate Kimi Raikkonen off the track earlier in the race and would have dropped behind Vettel anyway at the pitstops. He resumed in 19th place with a damaged auto. He tried to go up the inside of Verstappen at Spoon and the two clipped one another. It was the decisive moment of the race.

The hairpin provides one opportunity - although Ricciardo believes he will need other drivers to make mistakes in the Degners to be able to force his way through there - while the DRS zone is on the pit straight, meaning Turn 1 could also be an option to make a move.

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