Vettel and Verstappen collide in Japan

The track became increasingly damp, and there would be no challenge to Hamilton who, barring a disaster, will now extend his title lead and further tighten his grip on championship number five. The win puts his fifth world championship firmly in his grasp.

Hamilton, who'd been fastest ahead of team mate Valtteri Bottash in the 1st practice, lapped the 5.8-kilometer Suzuka Circuit in 1 minute, 28.217 seconds.

Verstappen secured third place for Red Bull behind both Mercs.

The gap between the German and Hamilton is now so big that the latter can potentially clinch the fifth title of his illustrious career at the United States Grand Prix.

Indeed, the move smelt of desperation, and it marked Vettel's second mistake of the weekend, after he ran off track in qualifying, and his seventh of an error-prone campaign. 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. The Briton won from pole in Japan past year.

The victory means Mercedes continue their run of being unbeaten at Suzuka since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014. Hamilton is now 67 points clear of the Ferrari man and can realistically win the title next time out in Austin.

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. "The Red Bulls were really quick here previous year and naturally so, the Ferraris".


"The whole weekend's been incredibly strong for the team", he said. Max Verstappen for one doesn't feel ike there's too much competition for the title now. He was just 5.2s off teammate Verstappen as he crossed the line, but the important part of the race was around the pit stops when he managed to move himself ahead Kimi Raikkonen, whose pace disappeared after contact with Verstappen on the opening lap.

Vettel came from too far back, and clumsily thudded into the side of Verstappen as sparks flew and the Ferrari vehicle spun around. Verstappen was subsequently given a five-second penalty for not returning to the track safely.

The Haas eventually shed the damaged tyre, and bodywork that splintered thanks to the flailing rubber, and the safety auto was deployed while the debris was cleared. He tried to go up the inside of Verstappen at Spoon and the two clipped one another.

Verstappen continued without losing much time but Vettel spun to the back of the field and was now consigned to a long afternoon fighting back. It was the decisive moment of the race. By lap 32 he had finally made it back to his starting position of eighth.

Wolff expressed sympathy towards Ferrari's plight, commenting: "I can't really judge [others] because I am not in any other team, but what we try to establish is a safe environment, which is easier said than done".

The Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez qualified above and below Vettel to complete the top 10.


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