Hamilton gets a step closer to winning his fourth Formula One title

Marsha Scott
October 9, 2017

Ferrari's reliability issues reared their ugly head again at Suzuka as an engine problem led to an early retirement for Vettel, leaving Hamilton to take full advantage for a crucial race victory that leaves him 59 points ahead of his rival.

Already 34 points behind Hamilton before the start, the setback was the third in as many races for the German, whose hopes now rest on Hamilton suffering similar misfortune in the last four grands prix.

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

He first lost a place to Max Verstappen at the hairpin and then Esteban Ocon, before falling down the field.

Ferrari had no choice but to retire Vettel from the race, ending his hopes of cutting the gap to Hamilton, who now leads the race for Mercedes.

When the lights went out Lewis Hamilton was able to put his hard-won pole position to nominal use, the Mercedes sweeping across the track to protect the lead of the race from Sebastian Vettel.

However, there was always a feeling Hamilton had something extra in the tank, and infuriatingly for Verstappen, a late run-off from Lance Stroll prompted another virtual safety vehicle in the final stages. With his main rival out, all Hamilton needed to do was to stay clear of any incidents and drive a low-risk race.

"It is great to have a attractive day here - the track was fantastic and the team did an incredible job". Renault's Jolyon Palmer, in his last race for the team, finished 12th while Torro Rosso's new rookie Pierre Gasly took P13 ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) and Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber).

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"I'm still going to keep the pedal to the metal". "Obviously it's not as much in our control as we like but overall I think the team is in a good way". I think we have got further than people thought.

"I wouldn't say that I have one hand on it (the title)", he added later. The final result means Mr. Hamilton has a 59-point lead at the top of the standings with 4 races to run this season. Verstappen's Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was third.

"I'm reasonably happy", said the Ferrari driver.

"I think the auto should be a bit better in the race".

With Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel having issues with his vehicle, and eventually needing to retire, the coast was clear for Hamilton - but Red Bull's Max Verstappen was not going to just hand the victory to the Brit.

Race victor Lewis Hamilton: "We have had such a great crowd this week you always look after us so well and the support was enormous". It feels great. It is a circuit I have always enjoyed, and with this year's cars, it is a lot of fun.

Williams driver Felipe Massa held off a stern challenge from McLaren's Fernando Alonso for the final point, helped by a late virtual safety vehicle.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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