Lewis Hamilton surprised by Ferrari's drop in performance

Elena Summers
October 8, 2018

A fifth world title is now squarely in Lewis Hamilton's sights.

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.

Lewis Hamilton extended his Championship lead to a whopping 67 points after cruising to victory at Suzuka, while Vettel fumbled yet again after colliding with Max Verstappen during a key stage of the race, finishing a lowly sixth place as a result.

Hamilton's championship lead has been significantly bolstered at the last three races after Mercedes started to outperform Ferrari from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards.

Verstappen took a different view of the collision, though.

The Mercedes driver won the race amidst high octane action, which included a clash between Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

Stewards reviewed the incident and chose to take no further action but Vettel made clear where he felt the blame rested.

Despite the mistakes and a heavy points loss in both championships, Vettel said that seeing the team work was "inspirational" and claims the team doesn't have much to lose now with four races to go. "I even gave him space but he understeered into my auto", he said. "But he understeered into my vehicle".

Valtteri Bottas ran off at the chicane in his later battle with Verstappen over second, prompting Verstappen to tell Sky Sports F1: "If I get a five-second penalty for that [Raikkonen incident] then next time I'll just cut the track and do it like Valtteri". He will then jet across the pond to race at a venue where he is unbeaten since 2013.

The 2018 Japanese Grand Prix might have been boring for world champion Lewis Hamilton, but behind his Mercedes there was wheel-to-wheel racing, crashes and lots of overtaking. Verstappen was subsequently assessed a five-second time penalty. "I even gave him space but he understeered into my vehicle", said Verstappen.


Meantime, Charles Leclerc says he could not understand why Kevin Magnussen was not penalised for his "dangerous" move in their fight at Suzuka.

Vettel tried to come back but once again had to move right through the field.

The safety vehicle was deployed on lap five after Kevin Magnussen left debris on the track after clashing with Charles Leclerc, however when racing resumed on lap eight, Vettel's valiant efforts were promptly wasted.

The race stewards investigated the incident but concluded no driver was predominantly to blame and therefore imposed no penalty.

"I had the speed".

Fellow Frenchman Romain Grosjean completed the race without telemetry information following an early fire on his Haas F1 vehicle.

"The whole weekend has been incredibly strong", Hamilton said.

Steiner explained that Haas could not help Grosjean identify the problem when it struck because of the lack of data from the vehicle.

Races like this are a bit of a hand-over and we know it is hard from where we are in the point standings, but we don't have much to lose.

"I don't think there was anything wrong with trying".

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