Lewis Hamilton within Striking Distance to Clinch His 5th Driver’s Championship After Winning Japanese GP
An elated Hamilton after winning the Japanese GP. – Picture credit – Issei Kato/Reuters
Lewis Hamilton bagged his 71st career win and his fifth in the Japanese Grand Prix to move to the brink of a fifth Driver’s World Championship. It was a pole-to-flag victory, in which the dominance of Mercedes was clearly evident, with teammate Valtteri Bottas coming in second.
It was a perfect weekend for the Silver Arrows but championship rival, Sebastian Vettel, could only manage sixth place, after colliding with Max Verstappen, leaving the Ferrari-man with a gaping 67-point deficit.
“I love that we have those races and those battles and I wish to have more of them. I have always been able to go head to head with the guy you compete with, and to see who breaks earlier and who falters is the ultimate challenge. Mental stability under that pressure. I always welcome them and I am glad we have had those moments,” said Hamilton of the battle with Vettel.
Hamilton powering his way to a fifth Japanese GP win. Image credit : www.bbc.com
Hamilton was so in control of the race that at one point he asked his team if others were still there.
However, there was plenty of action behind him, and Vettel was at the heart of it; he fought his way up to sixth by the third corner, passing both Toro Rosso, then fifth when he passed Romain Grosjean of Haas.
Vettel then went up to fourth at the end of the first lap when Verstappen locked the front wheel of his Red Bull going into the hairpin, ran wide and pushed Kimi Raikkonen off when rejoining the track, allowing Vettel to slip past his team-mate.
Race highlights :
There was a short safety-car intervention and after the restart, Vettel was behind Verstappen and he saw the chance to pass when the Red Bull slowed approaching the corner.
Vettel dived in, Verstappen half defended but left space. The Ferrari was mostly alongside entering the corner, only for the two to collide.
Verstappen continued without losing much time but Vettel spun to the back of the field and had to claw his way back up again.
Vettel’s championship charge goes up in smoke after a majority of mishaps.
The two Red Bulls, Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, finish third and fourth while Kimi Raikkonen led his Ferrari teammate Vettel for fifth and sixth.
Hamilton will clinch the title at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, in two weeks’ time if he wins the race and Vettel finishes lower than second, or if Hamilton scores eight points more than he does.
What do you think will happen in the next race?