Lewis Hamilton Wins Japanese GP After Vettel Retires

Formula 1 | Japanese GP Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel quickest as rain lashes Suzuka practice

Formula 1 | Japanese GP Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel quickest as rain lashes Suzuka practice

The Mercedes driver held off a late surge from Max Verstappen to win in Suzuka and open up a 59-point gap on his main championship rival Sebastian Vettel - who retired with a spark plug failure.

The Briton's current win will make him seal his fourth title easily at the US Grand Prix in Austin this month, as his lead has now increased to 59 points, contrary to last year, where the 32-year-old Stevenage born driver's title hopes were gutted by unfortunate engine failures and retirements.

Hamilton led from the off, making the most of pole position, and cutting across Vettel, who was soon demoted to third by Max Verstappen.

The F1 world title leader was Ricc-pocketed after his Japanese Grand Prix victory - as his Aussie rival nabbed his phone, took funny-face photos and posted then on Hamilton's own Instagram account.

In a championship in which Ferrari and Mercedes have been so closely matched, Vettel has seen his title hopes torn to shreds at the last three rounds.

"I could see Lewis managing his tyres and, with traffic, it seemed hard for him to follow other cars compared to me", said Verstappen.

"It is great to have a handsome day here - the track was fantastic and the team did an incredible job". I think our starts lately have been quite good. Still I was able to just hold him behind.

"I think we will just try to continue to do what we are doing, of course, we want to look after the vehicle and the engine, but we are already doing that throughout the races".

"I wouldn't say I have one hand on it", he said.

Hamilton has eight wins in 2017 to Vettel's four, so is certain to win any tie-break scenario if he is 75 points ahead after Austin with 75 still to play for. Moments later, Bottas allowed Hamilton to pass through, and now the Red Bull was stuck behind him.

"I think it's kind of unbelievable, really, to think we are where we are".

"It is certainly to be regretted these last two races for the reliability, Vettel said".

Hamilton is the only driver to finish in the points at every race this season, winning eight races and finishing on the podium three other times. "So for sure we will look into everything if it could have been done better, but I understood the situation". "At least I tried", he said, happy to be on the podium.

Ricciardo took a comfortable third - after fighting his way past Force India's Esteban Ocon after losing out to the Frenchman on the first lap - while Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas took fourth, moving up sixth on the grid after a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox.

"It is a circuit I have always enjoyed and now with this year's cars it is a lot of fun". Brazilian Felipe Massa rounded out the top 10 for Williams.

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