F1: Hamilton Wins Japanese GP As Vettel Crashes

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Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix for Mercedes on Sunday to take a 67 point lead in the Formula One championship and stand on the brink of a fifth title. With his title rival Sebastian Vettel only able to manage sixth after he tangled with Max Verstappen early in the race, the German's challenge is all but over.

Shock: From the very first session of Friday practice, it seemed unlikely Ferrari would challenge Mercedes for victory in Suzuka but nobody expected the fastest red vehicle to be 50 seconds off at the finish.

If Hamilton wins the next race in the United States he will be champion with three races to spare in case Vettel finishes lower than second.

"And he chose to go around the outside, he could have waited for me to understeer wide".

Vettel, eighth on the grid after a tyre-choice blunder by his Ferrari team in yesterday's dry-wet qualifying session, was sixth by turn one, and soon up to fifth after a brilliant move on the Haas of Romain Grosjean.

"In that corner you can not overtake", he said.

"I had more speed, and he didn't give enough room".

Verstappen continued without losing much time but Vettel spun to the back of the field and was now consigned to a long afternoon fighting back.

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"The team have done an unbelievable job this weekend, and the call that we made for Q3 was probably the most hard", said the Briton, joined by Bottas on the front row after the Finn completed a second successive Mercedes front row lockout.

Verstappen was already carrying a five-second penalty for forcing Vettel's team mate Kimi Raikkonen off the track earlier in the race and would have dropped behind Vettel anyway at the pitstops. Vettel has always been known to handle pressure well, but the latest string of errors from the German proves otherwise.

Update: Stewards have decided that there will be no penalty awarded to either drivers for the collision.

A rampant Hamilton, who stormed to a record-extending 80th pole, could not resist a dig at his rival. Force India's Esteban Ocan was ninth while Renault's Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10.

Verstappen marched on not wounded but Vettel's hopes of finishing at least third here and reducing the points damage to Hamilton were over in an instant. "When we got to midseason we got that win going into the break and then again, really pushing to make sure that we come back even stronger so again, set the bar high".

"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". The Ferrari was mostly alongside entering the corner, only for the two to collide. 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.

Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene said the podium had been within Ferrari's grasp.