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Hamilton wins Japanese GP as Vettel faces another setback

9th Oct 2017 2:36 pm

The Red Bull duo of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo grabbed the other two spots on the podium at the 2017 Japanese GP.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton closed in on the Formula 1 title with victory at the Japanese Grand Prix, beating Max Verstappen and dashing Sebastian Vettel's championship hopes as he took a blow with yet another retirement.

Hamilton converted pole into an early lead while second-placed Vettel began to drop back immediately, minutes after his Ferrari team had taken the engine cover off the car on the grid to check a spark plug problem. Vettel's subsequent lack of pace after meant Verstappen, who passed Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo off the line, picked off Vettel at the hairpin on the opening lap, before the Ferrari dropped another three places at the start of the second lap.

After a brief safety car period, caused by Carlos Sainz crashing his Toro Rosso at Turn 6, Vettel slumped to eighth before getting the call on the radio to pit and retire the car on lap 4. Hamilton then extended his lead to just over four seconds before Verstappen pitted to change his supersofts for soft tyres on lap 21, with Hamilton covering off the undercut on the following lap.

Bottas began to hold up Mercedes team-mate Hamilton after Ricciardo made his stop, allowing Verstappen to close within a second of his rival, but the gap grew again when Bottas allowed Hamilton through at the Casio Triangle at the midway point and started to hold up Verstappen.

It wasn't until lap 30 that Bottas pitted for supersofts by which time Verstappen had fallen 3.4s adrift. The Dutchman then managed to cut Hamilton's advantage to a little over two seconds, but couldn't keep up the pace until Hamilton found himself impeded by Fernando Alonso on lap 51.

That allowed Verstappen to close to within a second at the start of the final lap, but more traffic allowed Hamilton to escape once more and seal the win by a slight margin. Ricciardo completed the podium in third after a succession of fastest laps late on but couldn't make further inroads after switching to supersoft tyres on lap 25.

The sole surviving Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen finished fifth, recovering after dropping to 15th on the opening lap when he was forced wide at Spoon by Nico Hulkenberg.

The Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished sixth and seventh. Ocon had run as high as third early on after passing Ricciardo on the opening lap, but was soon demoted to fifth on successive laps by Ricciardo and Bottas.

An aggressive late move at Turn 1 on the Williams of Felipe Massa gave Kevin Magnussen eighth place, with his team-mate Romain Grosjean following through to grab ninth. Fernando Alonso finished 11th in the final home race for Honda as engine partner to McLaren, ahead of Jolyon Palmer's Renault and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly.

Race result

POS

DRIVER

TEAM

CAR

GAP

1

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

Mercedes

1h27m31.194s

2

Max Verstappen

Red Bull Racing

Red Bull/Renault

1.211s

3

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull Racing

Red Bull/Renault

9.679s

4

Valtteri Bottas

Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

Mercedes

10.580s

5

Kimi Raikkonen

Scuderia Ferrari

Ferrari

32.622s

6

Esteban Ocon

Sahara Force India F1 Team

Force India/Mercedes

1m07.788s

7

Sergio Perez

Sahara Force India F1 Team

Force India/Mercedes

1m11.424s

8

Kevin Magnussen

Haas F1 Team

Haas/Ferrari

1m28.953s

9

Romain Grosjean

Haas F1 Team

Haas/Ferrari

1m29.883s

10

Felipe Massa

Williams Martini Racing

Williams/Mercedes

1 Lap

11

Fernando Alonso

McLaren Honda

McLaren/Honda

1 Lap

12

Jolyon Palmer

Renault Sport F1 Team

Renault

1 Lap

13

Pierre Gasly

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso/Renault

1 Lap

14

Stoffel Vandoorne

McLaren Honda

McLaren/Honda

1 Lap

15

Pascal Wehrlein

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber/Ferrari

2 Laps

-

Lance Stroll

Williams Martini Racing

Williams/Mercedes

Suspension

-

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault Sport F1 Team

Renault

DRS

-

Marcus Ericsson

Sauber F1 Team

Sauber/Ferrari

Spun off

-

Sebastian Vettel

Scuderia Ferrari

Ferrari

Spark plug

-

Carlos Sainz

Scuderia Toro Rosso

Toro Rosso/Renault

Spun off

 

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