Published: Mon, October 09, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Lewis Hamilton in dreamland after opening up huge lead over Sebastian Vettel

Lewis Hamilton in dreamland after opening up huge lead over Sebastian Vettel

While Ferrari now focused on gaining crucial points with Raikkonen, Hamilton comfortably extended his lead over Verstappen by 2.8 seconds at the end of Lap 10.

Vettel's mechanics changed his car's spark plug on the grid and seemed to have resolved the problem.

When Bottas pitted and the leaders resumed, there appeared to be an edge for the Red Bull on the soft compound, as Verstappen turned the time sheets purple. Nevertheless he maintained a 2-3 second cushion over Verstappen as the race headed into its final phase. "Right up to the last corner of the last Grand Prix".

If Hamilton finishes second, he will become world champion if Vettel finishes ninth or lower. "I've just got to try and keep my head down and hopefully continue to perform like this". He crossed the line 1.2secs ahead. Hamilton's victory means he has opened up an nearly insurmountable 59-point lead ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with just 100 points left to play for.

The Briton would need to win there with Vettel no higher than sixth to prevent the championship remaining open until Mexico a week later.

"The team did an incredible job".

Max Verstappen had race victor Lewis Hamilton in his sights but was held up by back markers, forcing him to settle for second place at the Japanese Grand Prix. Red Bull is in third place with 303 points. Obviously we are quick in qualifying trim, but still I was just able to hold him behind.

"The start was okay, although the initial getaway was not spectacularly good, I had a bit of wheel spin", said Hamilton.

"I have to put it down to my team, they have done a phenomenal job, the reliability has really been on point, they're so meticulous, and really that's why we're having the reliability we're having and the results we're having".

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"Maybe it's a development slope of the team, they made a huge step forward from 2016 to 2017 and their auto is super-fast, it just lacks reliability and that is the next step".

"So a big thank you to everyone back at the factory you do an fantastic job and I hope I'm making you proud".

"I was trying to manage the pace and the tyres; it was a long way to go, it was the hottest the track had been all weekend, so that was really crucial. Also the support we get really does help lift us up".

Sebastian Vettel admits his retirement from the Japanese Grand Prix "hurts" but says he wants "to protect" Ferrari after his title hopes took a major blow at Suzuka.

After just four laps, he was forced to retire - and now Ferrari president Maurizio Arrivabene has confirmed that the engineers were in a race against time to deal with the eventually terminal engine problem. "But now we need to get back, get some rest and then go flat out for the last four races and see what happens".

Vettel, though now only having a theoretical chance for the yearly title, is still hopeful.

"The first half of the race was very well under control and the second part was a lot harder", said Hamilton.

"I think we will just try to continue to do what we are doing, of course, we want to look after the vehicle and the engine, but we are already doing that throughout the races".

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