Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

Lewis Hamiton sprinting to the finish of F1 title 'marathon'

Lewis Hamiton sprinting to the finish of F1 title 'marathon'

Ferrari's title contender Sebastian Vettel collided with Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday in yet another blow to the German's fading Formula One championship hopes.

The German recovered to finish sixth after spinning to the back of the field when he collided with Red Bull's Max Verstappen trying an ambitious move for third place into the hard Spoon Curve.

After Hamilton won the downhill gallop to the opening bend ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, the ninth win of his impressive year was never in doubt.

Vettel could only recover to sixth, leaving him 67 points behind race victor Lewis Hamilton - who can now clinch the title at the next race in the United States.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner put it even more bluntly when asked to assess Vettel's rush of blood.

"If I don't go for that gap and the gap was there then might as well stay at home".

Hamilton has surged clear of Sebastian Vettel in what for most of the season had proved an unpredictable championship fight for a fifth world title between the grid's two most successful drivers.

"We have given everything so far and I believe there's still something we can learn and understand from the auto".

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Under braking, Vettel barged into the side of Verstappen's Red Bull before spinning round in a flurry of sparks.

"I know the situation looks impossible but our job is to challenge the impossible, this is what we are going to do in the next four races", he said.

Vettel protested his innocence and took aim at the Dutchman, first over the radio, and then following the race, but the stewards tellingly took no action.

Driver of the day: Daniel Ricciardo drove a brilliant race from 15th on the grid to fourth at the finish. "We started off where we left off in Sochi and the drivers just feel good with the vehicle and I think that, as a driver, if you have that confidence and you are able to pushing it had within the limits and you feel it, then it's enjoyable to drive, and this is what we have achieved, I think".

Hamilton was leading from pole position. Vettel knew he had to win here but after qualifying badly the odds were already against him.

Wolff said, "We haven't won any of this year but I think it's important to reinvent yourself and set new objectives and there is always the risk for complacency, the risk that you are running out of targets so we are setting ourselves ambitious targets".

"I don't think there was anything wrong with trying". He faced a late charge from Max Verstappen at the end and clearly felt some pressure as he was forced into a few mistakes. Vettel appeared to want to avoid letting Mercedes open up too much of a gap in front, which he had to do given his deficit in the championship fight. "I did long distance running when I was a kid, cross country, and you just run out of stamina to keep hold with those who, for whatever reason, had the stamina at the time".

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