Lewis Hamilton cruises to win at Japanese GP, closes in on title

08 October, 2018, 18:29 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Vettel defends Ferrari as tyre gamble falls flat

Ever since his victory at the British Grand Prix, the German has made critical errors that has affected his results and helped Hamilton extend his lead in the championship. It will not necessarily be remembered as a classic but their flawless execution all weekend was an object lesson to Ferrari as to why their title hopes have been dashed.

And while fans wonder what has gone so spectacularly wrong, so too does Hamilton.

"It's like it's a marathon, not a sprint", he told reporters. "You know with Max, he's never going to give an inch and it's cost Sebastian dear today".

Vettel, eighth on the grid after a tyre-choice blunder by his Ferrari team in yesterday's dry-wet qualifying session, was sixth by turn one, and soon up to fifth after a brilliant move on the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

Vettel fought back to sixth, but for Hamilton, there were no such concerns as he marched towards his ninth win of the year, and crossed the line 12.9 seconds clear of Bottas.

Barely a month ago and it seemed as though Ferrari were not ready to wilt in F1's heavyweight battle either, yet the Scuderia's home Monza race appears to have proved 2018's decisive turning point.

Hamilton started from pole and held on to the position till the end of the race.

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"I don't really have an answer for that and it's not something I'm really focused on". "I definitely hadn't anticipated that Ferrari would tail off as they have". Not only have they lost a lot of performance, lost performance... just performances have not been coming in the same as they had before, as strong as they were before.

"I didn't expect it", the Mercedes driver said in Japan. "I'm part of the team and I want that to be the case and nothing else". I would've been happy to have had that every race following that.

Sebastian Vettel - Mercedes's only rival for the drivers' championship now - must have fancied his chances as he worked his way through the field, but contact with a certain young Red Bull-driving Dutchman sent him flying right to the back of the pack and with it effectively ended his last hopes of the title.

Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene said the podium had been within the team's grasp.

"Of course we know that it is hard now", he said. "Even though they are still performing great, one of them can't always perform the same. I am grateful to have also delivered when the time has been to deliver".

A period of Mercedes dominance in 2015 and 2016 saw Vettel fall behind in the Championship race, failing to win a single Grand Prix in 2016 and raising serious questions over his ability to perform the way he could at Red Bull.

"I'm very, very strict on not being complacent", stressed Hamilton. He is 67 points away from the lead with 100 points left available.

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