Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

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

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

For the brilliance of Hamilton across the year and the increasingly frequent mistakes made by Vettel, the tactical brains outside of the cars have a couple of times changed the shape of the race. "I even gave him space but he understeered into my vehicle", said Verstappen.

Vettel, beaten by the two Mercedes in Russian Federation a week earlier, tried to put a positive spin on a disastrous Japan race. The move dropped Vettel back to 18th place.

"I was obviously pushing to get past but I wasn't desperate to get past", said Vettel. However, he only gave flashes of his quality in his first two seasons which clearly wasn't enough.

The Australian eventually taking a strong fourth place as Red Bull out-strategised Ferrari, who had another disappointing race overall in a season that promised so much but which has unravelled dramatically in its second half.

The Briton now has a 67-point lead over Vettel with four races remaining and can sew up the championship next week with victory in Austin should the German finish lower than second.

Although Hamilton has held a championship lead of over 25 points since the German Grand Prix in July, Ferrari's performances around the summer break suggested the title fight was far from over.

A clever early-ish pit stop switched Verstappen's tyres and left him out on track fighting for position until the very end - despite his time penalty. Lewis Hamilton got a bit emotional as he crossed the line and moved ever closer to the title.

"In terms of Sebastian's performance, I definitely hadn't anticipated that they would tail off as they have", he said, after Vettel's fading title hopes were all but extinguished.

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"But it doesn't help when we finish sixth and they win the race".

On the one side, reportedly, is team boss Maurizio Arrivabene, and on the other is technical director Mattia Binotto, with both camps attempting to exert their influence on the Scuderia as a whole. Up until the Singapore Grand Prix in September, Ferrari appeared to have the quicker auto and Hamilton took victories against the odds at Hockenheim, the Hungaroring and Monza.

Stewards reviewed the incident and made a decision to take no further action.

Vettel came from too far back, and clumsily thudded into the side of Verstappen as sparks flew and the Ferrari auto spun around.

"If I don't go for that gap and that gap was there, I might as well go home".

The safety vehicle was deployed on lap five after Kevin Magnussen left debris on the track after clashing with Charles Leclerc, however when racing resumed on lap eight, Vettel's valiant efforts were promptly wasted. "But the gap was there - I had more speed, I would have made the corner".

The Force India's of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon were in seventh and ninth with Romain Grosjean's Haas in eighth and the Renault of Carlos Sanz in tenth.

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