Hamilton closes in on title with Japanese GP win

Lewis Hamilton leads Valtteri Bottas

Lewis Hamilton has edged closer to the 2018 Formula 1 world championship by securing victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.

His bid for a fifth world title was helped by a poor race for Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, who clashed with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, fell to the back and only salvaged sixth place.

Hamilton’s ninth win of 2018 means that the Mercedes star has a handy 67-point lead in the title chase with four grands prix remaining.

The Briton could wrap it up in the next round in the United States if he can outscore Vettel by eight points or more.

Hamilton led from the start ahead of his team-mate Valtteri Bottas, and that is how the pair would finish, capping off a crushing weekend for the Mercedes squad.

Verstappen endured an eventful run to third place in the race.

The lead Red Bull driver locked a brake at the final corner on the opening lap, bounced over the kerb and rejoined at the second part of the chicane, resulting in contact with Kimi Raikkonen.

Verstappen was handed a five-second penalty for the incident, and after an early Safety Car period for debris after a clash between Kevin Magnussen and Charles Leclerc, Verstappen withstood an attack from Vettel at the restart.

Vettel carried too much speed into the fast Spoon left-hander and made contact with the Red Bull.

Verstappen continued unimpeded and raced onto third, while Vettel fell to the tail of the field and mounted a big comeback to sixth, keeping his faint title hopes alive.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was a beneficiary of the action, finishing fourth after starting a lowly 15th due to a qualifying engine issue.

Raikkonen would eventually finish fifth having copped the bad end of traffic during the pit stops.

Force India’s Sergio Perez finished a fighting seventh, using an excellent pit strategy to get the better of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and his team-mate Esteban Ocon, the last of the cars on the lead lap.

Renault driver Carlos Sainz beat home Pierre Gasly to the final championship point after passing him late in the race.

New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley made a poor start to the race and plunged down the order after an impressive qualifying performance, finishing the race in 12th place.

The next grand prix will be held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas from October 19-21.

Race Results: Japanese Grand Prix

Pos Num Driver Car Laps Time/Retired
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 1:27:17.062
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53 +12.919s
3 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 53 +14.295s
4 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 53 +19.495s
5 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 53 +50.998s
6 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 53 +69.873s
7 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 53 +79.379s
8 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 53 +87.198s
9 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 53 +88.055s
10 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 52 +1 lap
11 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 52 +1 lap
12 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 52 +1 lap
13 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 52 +1 lap
14 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 52 +1 lap
15 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 52 +1 lap
16 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 52 +1 lap
17 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 52 +1 lap
NC 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 38 DNF
NC 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 37 DNF
NC 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 8 DNF

Drivers’ championship

Pos Driver Nat Pts
1 Lewis Hamilton GBR 331
2 Sebastian Vettel GER 264
3 Valtteri Bottas FIN 207
4 Kimi Räikkönen FIN 196
5 Max Verstappen NED 173
6 Daniel Ricciardo AUS 146
7 Sergio Perez MEX 53
8 Kevin Magnussen DEN 53
9 Nico Hulkenberg GER 53
10 Fernando Alonso ESP 50
11 Esteban Ocon FRA 49
12 Carlos Sainz ESP 39
13 Romain Grosjean FRA 31
14 Pierre Gasly FRA 28
15 Charles Leclerc MON 21
16 Stoffel Vandoorne BEL 8
17 Lance Stroll CAN 6
18 Marcus Ericsson SWE 6
19 Brendon Hartley NZL 2
20 Sergey Sirotkin RUS 1

Constructors’ championship

Pos Team Pts
1 Mercedes 538
2 Ferrari 460
3 Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 319
4 Renault 92
5 Haas Ferrari 84
6 McLaren Renault 58
7 Force India Mercedes 43
8 Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 30
9 Sauber Ferrari 27
10 Williams Mercedes 7

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