How Sebastian Vettel's hopes disappeared as pressure took its toll

08 October, 2018, 18:26 | Author: Amy Huff
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Vettel challenged Verstappen for third down the inside of the Spoon left-hander after an early-race safety auto restart, but it ended in a collision and sent the Ferrari driver spinning.

Valtteri Bottas of Finland was 13 seconds behind Hamilton, while Red Bull's Max Verstappen completed the podium despite collecting a 5-second penalty.

Meanwhile, Verstappen was able to maintain third ahead of Raikkonen but soon dropped to fourth behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who started 15th on the grid. Vettel knew he had to win here but after qualifying badly the odds were already against him.

The German led the championship by eight points back in July but Hamilton has won six of the seven races since and turned that deficit into a 67-point lead.

Sunday's race was a stroll for Hamilton, despite some early engine issues that proved to be nothing to worry about.

Some think Sebastian Vettel's struggle is because the FIA installed a second sensor in his car's controversial battery layout.

"I knew he had a penalty", insisted Vettel.

The 2018 Japanese Grand Prix might have been tiresome for world champion Lewis Hamilton, but behind his Mercedes there was wheel-to-wheel racing, crashes and lots of overtaking. He took the flag at Fuji for McLaren in 2007 and has now won for Mercedes at Suzuka in four of the five races since 2014.

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"Up until the mid-part of the season they were very strong", the Briton told reporters after securing his sixth win in seven races.

The victory means Mercedes continue their run of being unbeaten at Suzuka since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014. The US Grand Prix is one of the best races of the year - a great track just outside a wonderful city.

Vettel, who had started eighth after a failed tyre gamble in qualifying, made contact with Verstappen's Red Bull and spun while trying to pass the young Dutch driver for third on the eighth lap.

Suzuka was expected to provide a good measure of just how Ferrari and Mercedes now match up to one another and on this evidence Mercedes have clearly regained the advantage.

The Raikkonen clash had been triggered by Verstappen locking his right front approaching the final chicane and missing the corner, skipping across the grass to return to the track. "All the team is fired up and that certainly helps, as the last couple of weeks haven't been that easy", said Vettel.

It was a period where Lewis Hamilton's hold on the 2018 championship tightened and now it's.

That allowed Vettel to get between them, with the stewards penalising Verstappen for failing to rejoin safely. He resumed in 19th place with a damaged auto.

Stewards reviewed the incident and chose to take no further action but Vettel made clear where he felt the blame rested. "But the gap was there - I had more speed, I would have made the corner".

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