Hamilton takes huge step to F1 title despite Vettel's Japan recovery

A total of 67 points separate Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the F1 drivers' standings after the former won at Suzuka.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Japanese Grand Prix.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Lewis Hamilton took a huge step towards retaining his Formula One title by winning the Japanese Grand Prix as championship rival Sebastian Vettel could only recover to sixth.

Mercedes driver Hamilton extended his advantage at the top of the standings to 67 points with his fourth successive race win and sixth in seven, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas taking second ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

Vettel started eighth on the grid and worked his way up to fourth before contact with Verstappen, who had already received a five-second penalty for obstructing Kimi Raikkonen, on lap eight sent him all the way down to 19th.


The gap between the German and Hamilton is now so big that the latter can potentially clinch the fifth title of his illustrious career at the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton claimed his 80th career pole position in Japan and never came under pressure at the front of the field on Sunday, the majority of the drama taking place behind him.

Vettel's hopes of challenging the Briton were wiped away when he looked to dive down the inside of Verstappen at Spoon but connected with the Red Bull and both cars went off track.

The Dutchman served a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and not returning safely, forcing Raikkonen onto the grass after overrunning a chicane.

Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a fine day, climbing from 15th place after engine trouble in qualifying to finish ahead of the Ferrari duo in fourth.

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