Japanese Grand Prix: Hamilton wins, Vettel clashes with Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton moved to the brink of the 2018 Formula 1 title by claiming victory in the Japanese Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel clashed with Max Verstappen

Japanese Grand Prix: Hamilton wins, Vettel clashes with Verstappen

Hamilton's ninth win of the year and Vettel's sixth place at Suzuka, after spinning to the back, leaves Hamilton leading by 67 points with four grands prix remaining.

That means Hamilton only needs to outscore Vettel by eight points at the next race in the United States to clinch a fifth world championship.

Hamilton held his pole advantage at the start and kept Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at arm's length throughout the first stint, which was punctuated by a safety car.

Kevin Magnussen's Haas picked up a puncture after he moved to the right down the start-finish straight defending from Charles Leclerc and was rear-ended by the Sauber.

The Haas eventually shed the damaged tyre, and bodywork that splintered thanks to the flailing rubber, and the safety car was deployed while the debris was cleared.

By this point a flying start from Vettel had launched him from eighth to fourth, helped by Verstappen's first incident of the day with a Ferrari.

Verstappen locked up entering the final corner on the opening lap and ran off track, bounced over the grass and kerb as he rejoined at the second part of the chicane.

That resulted in light contact with Kimi Raikkonen, who was forced wide as he tried to pass the Red Bull on the outside, and allowed Vettel to sneak ahead of his team-mate.

When the safety car period ended on lap eight Vettel attacked Verstappen, who had been handed a five-second penalty for the Raikkonen incident.

Vettel tried to sneak inside Verstappen into the fast Spoon left-hander, but carried too much speed and made light contact with the Red Bull and spun onto the run-off.

Verstappen managed to continue without losing a position to Raikkonen but Vettel dropped to the back - the stewards looked into the clash but took no further action.

Despite his early time penalty, Verstappen was able to maintain third ahead of Raikkonen thanks to Ferrari pitting the Finn first and releasing him into traffic.

That also allowed the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, who had started 15th after a problem in qualifying, to jump Raikkonen having carved through the order in a stellar opening stint.

The lead order settled thereafter, with Hamilton constantly extending his lead as Bottas came under late pressure from Verstappen.

Bottas survived a mistake at the final corner with six laps to go, which resulted in him skipping across the chicane, to complete a Mercedes one-two for the second race in a row.

Raikkonen drifted further away from the Red Bulls in fifth, while Vettel gradually made his way back to sixth - but by the time he was clear of the rest of the field, he was a minute behind Hamilton and 40 seconds behind Raikkonen.

That gap shrank to 18.8s at the flag as Ferrari opted not to switch the drivers, denying Vettel an extra two points.

Sergio Perez stole best-of-the-rest honours in seventh after Racing Point Force India mugged Haas and Toro Rosso with a superior strategy.

Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly ran sixth and seventh early on for their respective teams, but Force India stopped Perez and Esteban Ocon earlier than their immediate rivals.

The fresh-tyre advantage allowed them to jump Gasly, before Perez caught and passed Grosjean after a virtual safety car called to deal with Charles Leclerc's stricken Sauber.

Ocon was not able to match his team-mate and finished ninth, with Carlos Sainz Jr beating Gasly to the final point after passing him late on.

That meant Toro Rosso failed to score at all after qualifying sixth and seventh for engine supplier Honda's home grand prix.

Brendon Hartley finished 12th at the end of a muted race in which he had already plunged from sixth to 10th with a poor start.

Only three cars retired from the grand prix - Magnussen, Leclerc, who had also been rear-ended by team-mate Marcus Ericsson just as they prepared for the restart after the safety car, and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg.

Race result

Pos Driver Car Laps Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 53 1h27m17.062s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 53 12.919s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 53 14.295s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 53 19.495s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 53 50.998s
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 53 1m09.873s
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 53 1m19.379s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 53 1m27.198s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 53 1m28.055s
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 52 1 Lap
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 52 1 Lap
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 52 1 Lap
13 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 52 1 Lap
14 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 52 1 Lap
15 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 52 1 Lap
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 52 1 Lap
17 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 52 1 Lap
- Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 38 Mechanical
- Nico Hulkenberg Renault 37 Rear end
- Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 8 Accident

Drivers' standings

Pos Driver Points
1 Lewis Hamilton 331
2 Sebastian Vettel 264
3 Valtteri Bottas 207
4 Kimi Raikkonen 196
5 Max Verstappen 173
6 Daniel Ricciardo 146
7 Sergio Perez 53
8 Kevin Magnussen 53
9 Nico Hulkenberg 53
10 Fernando Alonso 50
11 Esteban Ocon 49
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. 39
13 Romain Grosjean 31
14 Pierre Gasly 28
15 Charles Leclerc 21
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
17 Lance Stroll 6
18 Marcus Ericsson 6
19 Brendon Hartley 2
20 Sergey Sirotkin 1

Constructors' standings

Pos Constructor Points
1 Mercedes 538
2 Ferrari 460
3 Red Bull/Renault 319
4 Renault 92
5 Haas/Ferrari 84
6 McLaren/Renault 58
7 Force India/Mercedes 43
8 Toro Rosso/Honda 30
9 Sauber/Ferrari 27
10 Williams/Mercedes 7


shares
comments
Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey calls team principals to Suzuka meeting
Previous article

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey calls team principals to Suzuka meeting

Next article

Vettel: Verstappen completely to blame for F1 Japanese GP collision

Vettel: Verstappen completely to blame for F1 Japanese GP collision
Load comments
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal Plus

The downside to F1's show and tell proposal

Technology lies at the heart of the F1 story and it fascinates fans, which is why the commercial rights holder plans to compel teams to show more of their ‘secrets’. STUART CODLING fears this will encourage techno-quackery…

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2021
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021