Lewis Hamilton takes Japanese Grand Prix victory as Vettel continues to lose ground in title fight
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News October 7, 2018 Updated: 5:41 AM PT
SUZUKA, Japan — In his quest for a history-making fifth world championship, Lewis Hamilton took another step in completing the quest. Hamilton took his ninth win of the season and title rival Sebastian Vettel makes another the crucial mistake at Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Remaining cautiously optimistic securing his fifth title which could be done at the next round in Austin Hamilton reflects on was a ‘fun’ day at the office.
“I was having so much fun driving this track,” Hamilton said. “I was really able to just embrace the moment and enjoy every single lap, every single corner and the feel of the car. Suzuka is such a unique circuit, you go down a hill into Turn 1, then up-hill, you go underneath the track – it’s one of my favorite circuits. The pace was really great and this is definitely the best weekend I’ve had here and the best feeling I’ve had here balance-wise, it was really lovely. Everyone at the track and back home in the factories deserves a huge thank you for their continued efforts, they just continue to push and deliver, weekend after weekend.”
He added: “This result was really the best way to repay all their hard work. There’s still 100 points available, so we have to try and focus and never be complacent. The team has done such an amazing job the last few weekends, we need to bring the same focus and performance and keep pushing. The harmony in the team and the performance of every single individual in the team is the best it’s ever been. But we’ve always got areas that we can improve on, collectively and for me personally, so we will keep pushing and keep raising the bar.”
Hamilton's fourth straight win now extends his lead to 67 points ahead of title rival Sebastian Vettel. Vettel started the race in eighth and was making a charge up the field, but things took a turn for Vettel after the Ferrari made contact with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen at Turn 14.
Verstappen had previously received a five second time penalty for an incident with Kimi Raikkonen Raikkonen at the start of the race.
However, Vettel still attempted to pass Verstappen with both drivers going wheel to wheel. As the two made contact, Vettel’s car was sent spinning around into the runoff area and to the back on the grid.
Vettel would eventually make his way back up the field to end the race in sixth place.
Force India took a double points scoring finish with Sergio Perez taking seventh after battling Haas’ Romain Grosjean, who finished eighth while Esteban Ocon in the second Force India finished ninth.
Grosjean lost teammate Kevin Magnussen after he made contact with the Sauber of Charles Leclerc on the main straight on lap 2. As a result of the contact with Magnussen, Leclerc would later retire from the race after encountering a mechanical issue that caused him to run wide at Turn 8 and 9 driving though the gravel before coming to a stop on the grass of Turn 10.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz took the tenth and final points paying spot but lost teammate Nico Hulkenberg who was forced to retire after running into an unexplained issue with his Renault.
Pierre Gasly finished 11th ahead of the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson in 12th and Toro Rosso teammate Brendon Hartley in 13th.
McLaren and Williams held the final four slots on the grid with Fernando Alonso and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne finishing 14th and 15th ahead of the Williams pair of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll in 16th and 17th.
With four races remaining in the season, Vettel’s costly mistake has left him where he could be out reach of the championship two weeks from now in Austin. Vettel needs to finish second or better, if he is to have any chance of keeping the fight for the title alive.