Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

'Thrown it away': Ferrari's Vettel blasted for costly blunder

'Thrown it away': Ferrari's Vettel blasted for costly blunder

Lewis Hamilton chose to soak in the winning feeling at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday rather than allow himself to get carried away by thoughts of securing what looks like an inevitable fifth title.

Hamilton led serenely throughout as his title rival Sebastian Vettel ran into trouble in his attempt to gain ground from his eighth place on the grid. The Red Bull driver locked up on the final corner of the opening lap and ran off track, only to rejoin in the second part of the chicane.

Vettel fought back to sixth, but for Hamilton, there were no such concerns as he marched towards his ninth win of the year, and crossed the line 12.9 seconds clear of Bottas.

But behind him, there was action aplenty, much of it focused on Vettel.

Hamilton now has 331 points to Vettel's 264, while Mercedes lead Ferrari in the constructors' standings with 538 points to 460 for the Italians.

And he drove well in the early laps.

Verstappen's run-in with Vettel was set up by a previous incident with the German's Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

There was an early collision with Sauber driver Charles Leclerc hitting the rear tire of Kevin Magnussen resulting in a puncture and bringing out the safety auto.

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Vettel dived for the inside, Verstappen half defended but left space. "But the gap was there - I had more speed, I would have made the corner". Hamilton will become a 5 times world champion and Vettel and Ferrari will have till March, 2019 to figure out what went wrong.

He held on to second place in Suzuka from start to finish, and protected race victor Lewis Hamilton from the late pressure applied by Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

After a virtual safety auto, called after Leclerc pulled off with a mechanical failure, Bottas began to run into blistering problems with his tyres.

Despite his early time penalty, Verstappen was able to maintain third ahead of Raikkonen thanks to Ferrari pitting the Finn first and releasing him into traffic.

"If I get a five-second penalty for that, then next time I'll just cut the track and do like Valtteri", Verstappen said in an interview on racefans.

"Keep him [Bottas] under pressure, keep it clean".

Daniel Ricciardo showed young pretender Pierre Gasly how it's done.

Vettel challenged Verstappen for third down the inside of the Spoon left-hander after an early-race safety auto restart, but it ended in a collision and sent the Ferrari driver spinning.

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

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"I'm not the one who makes the rules", Verstappen said.

"He drove into the side of my auto".

From sublime Suzuka, to incredible Austin.

"I think it's correct that maybe we've been on the wrong side a couple of times but I don't think there was an bad big gap or an terrible lot to get wrong".

Vettel's championship hopes hang on by a thread as the German driver made another crucial mistake that has affected the gap to championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

"We've gone from strength to strength as a team this year".

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