Japanese GP: Hamilton coasts to victory, Vettel blames Verstappen for collision
The Japanese Grand Prix concluded on Sunday with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton winning the race followed by his team-mate Valtteri Bottas who bagged the second position while Red Bull's Max Verstappen ended at number three.
With this win, the rampant Lewis Hamilton stretched his lead to 67 points and moved closer to his fifth Formula One world title. Hamilton, known as the greatest British driver ever, kept belief in himself after a disappointing start to the championship and worked on his weaknesses to come out strong. None of the drivers had an answer to the aggressive style of racing showcased by Hamilton at Suzuka, which is one of the Brit's favourite racing tracks in the world having won five races there.
The Briton earlier on Saturday grabbed a record-extending 80th pole position in the qualifying session in Suzuka, He hit a furious lap of 1m, 27.760s on the super-soft tires, and was unstoppable and dominant throughout.
With this win, the Mercedes driver shattered all the hopes of his rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by extending the lead to 67 points with just 4 races left. For Hamilton, who is in a rampaging mood, the Japanese GP win was his sixth in the last seven races and fourth in a row.
Meanwhile, the struggling Ferrari driver Vettel, who is second in the championship standings with 264 points, slammed Max Verstappen for the costly collision which resulted in him finishing in a distant sixth position.
After the collision, Vettel lost his momentum and with this, his hopes to narrow down the lead also took a hit. Verstappen tried to overtake Vettel from the corner in order to move to the third position but ended up colliding with the German.
The German, who won four straight F1 titles with the last coming in 2013, hit the fastest lap of the race with 1.32.318 seconds, which was the only plus point he could take from the otherwise forgettable race.
"As soon as Verstappen saw me obviously he defended but I had the inside. And as soon as he realized somebody in close or next to him he tries to, in my opinion, push when you shouldn't push anymore," Vettel said to Sky Sports F1.
"Look at the incident with Kimi, he's off the track and comes back and if Kimi just drives on they'd collide. But it's not always right that the other guy has to move. We're all racing, the race is long," he added.
"This is part of racing, don't get me wrong. I don't regret the move, obviously, with that outcome, you would do it differently because with hindsight it's always easy. But the gap was there, his battery was clipping, I was boosting, I saved my battery, I had more speed, I would have made the corner, I was side by side and then he didn't give enough room and then we touched," he added as he stormed out of the press conference.
The German had a very good start to this year's Championship with two successive wins at Australian and Bahrain GP, however, he slumped later on with the Brit spearing ahead in the latter stages of the championship. If Hamilton wins the championship, he will join Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina at second place in the list of most F1 championship titles. With just four races left and with a 67-point lead, Hamilton is most likely to win the championship. Currently, with four career championship titles, Hamilton shares the third spot with his rival Vettel and the legendary Alain Prost of France.
Japanese GP standings:
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
- Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
- Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
- Lewis Hamilton (GBR) - 331 points
- Sebastian Vettel (GER) - 264 points
- Valtteri Bottas (FIN) - 207 points
- Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) - 196 points
- Max Verstappen (NED) - 173 points