Lewis Hamilton took a dominant victory to take his fifth win at the Japanese Grand Prix. The four times world champion is now on the brink of taking his fifth world title in Austin after his rival Sebastian Vettel spun on the opening lap.
Hamilton’s form in the last five races has seen him build a lead of sixty-seven points and means victory in one of the four remaining races would see him seal the title.
Vettel’s race imploded early on, the Ferrari driver attempted an aggressive move on Max Verstappen sending him into a spin and dropping him to the back. The German was the worst off as it appears now that it is impossible for him to seal the title.
Speaking about the incident, Verstappen said “Kimi chose the wrong line at the chicane and we touched a little bit. I think it’s really ridiculous those five seconds. The touch with Sebastian… in that corner you can’t overtake. I even gave him space but he understeered into my car.”
Vettel said “I was pushing to get past. I wasn’t desperate to get past. I knew he had a five-second penalty. The gap was there, but as soon as he saw me, he defended, but I had the inside. In my opinion, he tries to push when he shouldn’t.”
Hamilton remains unchallenged throughout, soon on he opened a lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas, remaining in control despite a number of accidents. Bottas himself was awarded a five second penalty for a first lap tangle with Kimi Raikkonen.
Meanwhile, Verstappen was putting pressure on Bottas. The Red Bull put pressure on until the very end after serving a penalty, which was awarded after he re-joined the track dangerously following the first corner incident.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo used an aggressive strategy to make up places and finish fourth. The Australian started fifteenth because of an engine failure, but he managed to pull off overtakes when Suzuka is seen as one of the more difficult circuits.
Ricciardo avoided the chaos around him and emerged in fourth place once everyone’s first stint was out of the way, a position he held until the chequered flag.
Hamilton said, “I loved it. The whole weekend has been incredibly strong for the team. It’s a great one-two for Mercedes and a true showing of the real strength in depth we have. This track is the best track in the world, I don’t know why they don’t make tracks like this anymore”
The weather had place the strategy of a one stop in doubt, despite the warm weather the teams still managed the race on a one stop. Raikkonen was the first to stop, switching to the mediums on lap eighteen. While Mercedes managed to stop just after the half way point.
Sergio Perez passed the Haas of Romain Grosjean in the closing laps to finish seventh, the Mexican passed Grosjean in the closing stages to gain seventh. Perez’s teammate Esteban Ocon was ninth and Carlos Sainz tenth.
The drama between Verstappen and Vettel wasn’t the only drama, as Kevin Magnussen and Charles Leclerc collided. The Sauber ran into the back of the Haas, it appears as is be made a double move. But both looked to escape undamaged.
Toro Rosso had hoped that they could score points at Honda home race, however, they were sent backwards after starting in the top ten. Pierre Gasly being jumped in the pit stops pushing down the order, while Brendon Hartley’s poor start saw him drop from sixth to twelfth on the first lap.
It was another poor result from McLaren, Fernando Alonso fourteenth and Stoffel Vandoorne fifteenth. Questions remain, on a weekend where Honda showed great pace throughout why the team dropped the Japanese manufacturer and why they can’t deliver the same results as Red Bull and the works Renault team.
- Japanese GP – Qualifying Result
- JAPANESE GP – Lewis Hamilton takes pole by two tenths over Bottas, Vettel struggles to ninth
- Notebook – Japanese Practice
- JAPANESE GP – Mercedes continue to set the pace in FP2, with eight tenths over Ferrari
- JAPANESE GP – Lewis Hamilton sets the pace as Ferrari struggle in FP1
- Prixview – Japanese Grand Prix