Hamilton storms to Japanese GP victory

    Vettel’s title hopes suffer yet another blow as he could only salvage 6th place, following a clash with Verstappen.

    Published On Oct 08, 2018 03:16:00 PM

    2,645 Views

    Lewis Hamilton is well on target to clinch the 2018 F1 drivers’ championship title after claiming his fourth consecutive race victory of the season in Japan – the Mercedes driver’s ninth win of the year. Further boosting Hamilton’s championship lead was the fact that Sebastian Vettel could only salvage a 6th-place finish after making contact with Max Verstappen early in the race.

    It was a straightforward race victory for Hamilton, who held his pole advantage at the start and kept team-mate Valtteri Bottas at arm’s length till the chequered flag was waved. A difficult qualifying session for Ferrari saw Vettel start the race in 8th place, but he made a strong getaway and was already up to 4th place by the time the safety car was deployed on lap four. Kevin Magnussen's Haas picked up a puncture after he was rear-ended by Charles Leclerc’s Sauber. Magnussen’s car eventually shed the damaged tyre and the bodywork that splintered thanks to the flailing rubber; the safety car was deployed while the debris was cleared.

    Verstappen was handed a 5sec time penalty for leaving the track and not rejoining safely as he locked-up entering the final corner on the opening lap, ran off-track and rejoined at the second part of the chicane. That resulted in light contact with Kimi Raikkonen, who was forced wide as he tried to pass the Red Bull on the outside, allowing Vettel to sneak ahead of his teammate.

    Despite putting up a strong performance in the opening laps, things soon went downhill for Vettel as he attempted to pass Verstappen into the fast Spoon left-hander after the safety period ended. The Ferrari carried too much speed, made light contact with Verstappen’s Red Bull and spun onto the run-off. Although Verstappen managed to continue without losing position, the incident dropped Vettel all the way down to 19th.

    Elsewhere, Daniel Ricciardo made steady progress after starting in 15th place. By the time racers completed the first round of pit-stops, Ricciardo managed to jump ahead of Raikkonen, with the Finn having to tackle traffic after Ferrari decided to pit him earlier. The lead order settled thereafter, with Hamilton constantly extending his lead as Bottas came under late pressure from Verstappen.

    Bottas survived a mistake at the final corner with six laps to go, which resulted in him skipping across the chicane, to complete a Mercedes one-two for the second race in a row. Raikkonen drifted further away from the Red Bulls in 5th, while Vettel gradually made his way back to 6th – but by the time he was clear of the rest of the field, he was 1min behind Hamilton and 40sec behind Raikkonen.

    Behind the frontrunners, Force India’s strategy helped Sergio Perez clinch 7th place. Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly ran 6th and 7th early on for their respective teams, but Force India stopped Perez and Esteban Ocon earlier than their immediate rivals. The fresh tyres allowed them to jump Gasly before Perez caught and passed Grosjean for 7th after a virtual safety car was deployed to deal with Charles Leclerc's stricken Sauber. Ocon was not able to match his teammate and finished 9th, with Carlos Sainz Jr beating Gasly to the final point after passing him late on.

    Only three cars retired from the Grand Prix – Magnussen, Leclerc (who had also been rear-ended by teammate Marcus Ericsson just as they prepared for the restart after the safety car), and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg.

    Hamilton's 67-point lead in the championship standings means that he only needs to outscore Vettel by eight points at the next race in the United States to clinch his fifth world championship.

    Race result

    POS

    DRIVER

    CAR

    LAPS

    GAP

    1

    Lewis Hamilton

    Mercedes

    53

    1h27m17.062s

    2

    Valtteri Bottas

    Mercedes

    53

    12.919s

    3

    Max Verstappen

    Red Bull/Renault

    53

    14.295s

    4

    Daniel Ricciardo

    Red Bull/Renault

    53

    19.495s

    5

    Kimi Raikkonen

    Ferrari

    53

    50.998s

    6

    Sebastian Vettel

    Ferrari

    53

    1m09.873s

    7

    Sergio Perez

    Force India/Mercedes

    53

    1m19.379s

    8

    Romain Grosjean

    Haas/Ferrari

    53

    1m27.198s

    9

    Esteban Ocon

    Force India/Mercedes

    53

    1m28.055s

    10

    Carlos Sainz

    Renault

    52

    1 Lap

    11

    Pierre Gasly

    Toro Rosso/Honda

    52

    1 Lap

    12

    Marcus Ericsson

    Sauber/Ferrari

    52

    1 Lap

    13

    Brendon Hartley

    Toro Rosso/Honda

    52

    1 Lap

    14

    Fernando Alonso

    McLaren/Renault

    52

    1 Lap

    15

    Stoffel Vandoorne

    McLaren/Renault

    52

    1 Lap

    16

    Sergey Sirotkin

    Williams/Mercedes

    52

    1 Lap

    17

    Lance Stroll

    Williams/Mercedes

    52

    1 Lap

    -

    Charles Leclerc

    Sauber/Ferrari

    38

    Retirement

    -

    Nico Hulkenberg

    Renault

    37

    Retirement

    -

    Kevin Magnussen

    Haas/Ferrari

    8

    Retirement

     

    Copyright (c) Autosport. All rights reserved.

    Comments
    ×
    img

    No comments yet. Be the first to comment.

    Ask Autocar Anything about Car and Bike Buying and Maintenance Advices
    Need an expert opinion on your car and bike related queries?
    Ask Now
    Search By Car Price
    Poll of the month

    Which was your favourite Car, SUV at Auto Expo 2023

    Maruti Suzuki Jimny

     

    26.01%

    Maruti Suzuki Fronx

     

    14.69%

    Maruti Suzuki eVX concept

     

    2.95%

    Tata Harrier EV

     

    9.88%

    Tata Sierra

     

    23.38%

    Hyundai Ioniq 5

     

    4.09%

    Hyundai Ioniq 6

     

    3.34%

    Kia EV9 concept

     

    2.62%

    MG4

     

    2.05%

    Toyota Land Cruiser 300

     

    10.99%

    Total Votes : 2784
    Sign up for our newsletter

    Get all the latest updates from the automobile universe