Mon, Oct 08, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Hamilton wins Japan, eyes title

EARLY COLLISION:Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton’s closest rival, finished only sixth after a crash with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen left him with a damaged car

Reuters, SUZUKA, Japan

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton sprays champagne after winning the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit yesterday.Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage your health

Photo: EPA-EFE

Lewis Hamilton yesterday won the Japanese Grand Prix in a Mercedes one-two to take a 67-point lead in the Formula One championship and stand on the brink of a fifth title.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, the Briton’s closest rival, finished only sixth after an early collision with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen left the German fighting back from 19th place in a damaged car.

Finland’s Valtteri Bottas secured the Mercedes one-two with second place, while Verstappen finished third despite collecting a penalty of 5 seconds.

If Hamilton wins the next race, the US Grand Prix in Austin and one of his favorite tracks, the 33-year-old would be champion with three races to spare, in case Vettel finishes lower than second.

“We’ve gone from strength to strength as a team this year. Austin is generally a good track for us and I can’t wait to unleash this beast there,” said Hamilton after leading every lap from pole position.

The victory was the 71st of his career, leaving him only 20 behind the record of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton has 331 points to Vettel’s 264, while Mercedes lead Ferrari in the constructors’ standings with 538 points to 460 for the Italians.

Vettel, who had started eighth after a failed tire gamble in qualifying runs, collided with Verstappen while trying to pass on the inside for third place at the fast left-handed sweep of Suzuka Circuit’s Spoon Corner.

Vettel spun around and resumed at the back.

Race stewards reviewed the collision, before deciding that no further action was warranted.

Verstappen was already carrying a penalty of 5 seconds for earlier forcing Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen off the track, and would have dropped behind Vettel anyway at the pit stop.

“The touch with Sebastian ... in that corner you can’t overtake. I even gave him space, but he understeered into my car,” Verstappen said.

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

“I know the situation looks impossible, but our job is to challenge the impossible — this is what we are going to do in the next four races,” Arrivabene added.

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