Lewis Hamilton took a huge step towards a fourth Formula One championship, winning the Japanese Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel’s woes continued.
Hamilton enjoyed a dominant weekend at Suzuka and the Brit turned that into a 61st grand prix win, holding off Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on Sunday.
The Mercedes star had opened up a healthy lead amid struggles for the Scuderia in Singapore and Malaysia, and he will take a 59-point advantage into the final four races of the season after converting his first Suzuka pole into victory.
There are now just four races remaining this season and if Hamilton wins the US Grand Prix in two weeks and Vettel fails to finish in the top five then Hamilton will retain his crown.
Troubled by reliability issues in recent races, Vettel’s bad luck continued, the Ferrari driver retiring after just four laps due to mechanical problems.
The German appeared at risk of not starting as his car was worked on before the race, but the issues remained and he quickly fell from second before his retirement.
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Verstappen produced a fine early move to get past the struggling Vettel and the Dutchman, coming off a win in Malaysia, held onto second as most drivers opted for one-stop strategies.
Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen’s team-mate, completed the podium.