Hamilton romps to Japan win to close on world title

Vettel defends Ferrari as tyre gamble falls flat

Vettel finished sixth at Suzuka, with mistakes in both qualifying and the race proving costly. "I gave him enough space".

Vettel had such an excellent start, quick away from the lights and moving up three places in the first lap.

"I knew he had a penalty", insisted Vettel.

Asked if he felt he could claim credit for "breaking" Ferrari, Hamilton said it has been a team effort: "I think together we can claim credit for applying the pressure, and ultimately maybe that's what happens in head-to-head battles with top competitors - eventually someone has to, even though they're still performing great, one of them can't always be performing the same".

"When we were having the race like Monza - for me, I loved that race".

Daniel Ricciardo recovered from 15th to fourth, while Kimi Raikkonen was fifth on a desperately torrid afternoon for Ferrari.

The German is now 67 points behind Mercedes' victor Hamilton, who can clinch his fifth Formula One title at the next race in the United States with three rounds to spare.

He said: "I know I can overtake, but this track's hard".

Verstappen also left the track following the incident but still took the third step on the podium behind Valtteri Bottas, with Vettel left feeling like he was the victim of an irresponsible move from the Red Bull driver.

A fifth world title is now squarely in Lewis Hamilton's sights. It will not necessarily be remembered as a classic but their flawless execution all weekend was an object lesson to Ferrari as to why their title hopes have been dashed.

This year has been more of the same, with Vettel unable to make his partnership with Ferrari tick despite the F1 heavyweights repeatedly putting their faith in him. Hamilton's ninth win of the season leaves Ferrari reeling and their championship challenge in tatters after such a promising opening to their year.

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

Lewis Hamilton joins Simon Lazenby and Anthony Davidson, as they review his race weekend from Suzuka.

With a consistent vehicle, Ricciardo is always unsafe - he sees the overtaking opportunities so soon and reacts swiftly, and he fully deserved his fourth-place finish after yet another qualifying session marred by technical issues.

"The whole weekend has been incredibly strong for the team", Hamilton said. He tried to go up the inside of Verstappen at Spoon and the two clipped one another. 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.

Verstappen's run-in with Vettel was set up by a previous incident with the German's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, which dropped the Finn behind Vettel.

Further down the order, Sergio Perez took seventh for Force India ahead of Romain Grosjean's Haas.

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