Hamilton edges closer to fifth title as Vettel crashes


There was plenty of action on Sunday at the 2018 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix though not at the front of the pack were Mercedes-AMG cemented another one-two finish, with star driver Lewis Hamilton claiming the win and teammate Valtteri Bottas crossing the line 12.919 seconds later.

Hamilton could put Vettel out of his misery if he wins the next race at Austin in two weeks and Vettel finishes lower than second - or if he outscores the German by eight points.

Standing over his vehicle, the Briton said: "Austin is usually a good track for us, so I can't wait to unleash this beast there".

Hamilton is now 67 points clear of Vettel in the drivers title race, and Mercedes 78 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors.

"We knew we would have a tough battle this year, and you have seen all of the ups and downs, but competition-wise it has been one of the most I have enjoyed in my career".

Sebastian Vettel showed just how far his form has nose-dived since the summer with a foolhardy lunge on Max Verstappen that sent his Ferrari into a spin early in the race. The German, who began from eighth in qualifying, survived the scrape but found himself back in 19th and could only finish sixth, dealing a hammer blow to his slim title hopes.

He insisted after the race that stewards had been "stupid" to penalise him - and had nothing but disdain for Vettel's rush of blood, sniffing: "He drove into the side of my vehicle, he could have been a bit more careful".

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The Englishman also had Vettel to thank for running into Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and dropping to the back of the field at Suzuka in Sunday.

Force India's Sergio Perez was seventh ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

Debris on the track after a collision between Magnussen and Leclerc saw a short safety vehicle period, after which Vettel tried a pass on Verstappen, had a coming together, span and ended up at the back of the pack, although Verstappen continued nearly unhindered by the contact.

The second Force India of Esteban Ocon came in ninth with Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr 10th. He was then fourth after Verstappen ran off the road at the chicane, and in rejoining the track, bumped Raikkonen on to the grass.

There was an early collision with Sauber driver Charles Leclerc hitting the rear tire of Kevin Magnussen resulting in a puncture and bringing out the safety vehicle. "He didn't give me any room so it was inevitable we would make contact".

"I was obviously pushing to get past but I wasn't desperate to get past", he said. "That's probably the end of his championship".