Lewis Hamilton wins Japan Grand Prix

Marcus Ericsson crashe

The German span out and fell all the way down to 19th, only recovering to take sixth as Lewis Hamilton won to open his advantage at the top of the drivers' standings to 67 points and close in on a fifth title.

Hamilton's fourth win in succession, and sixth in seven rounds, never appeared in doubt as he raced away from pole and cruised to the line ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Vettel could only recover to sixth, leaving him 67 points behind race victor Lewis Hamilton - who can now clinch the title at the next race in the United States.

"Each week you have a positive weekend and you go to another Grand Prix and you're not sure how you're going to fare and how you're going to perform, because there are still gaps in between".

Even if Hamilton fails to win in the United States, he will still be world champion as long as he outscores Vettel by at least eight points.

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. "He didn't give enough room and we touched".

A fourth win in a row and ninth of the year, on a wretched weekend for Vettel and Ferrari in Japan, has moved the Mercedes driver to the brink of more F1 history.

Verstappen went on to finish third regardless, and when told by team principal Christian Horner after the race that he would not be "too popular with Ferrari and the Italians", he jovially replied: "That's not my problem, they were too aggressive". Vettel banged into the side of Verstappen at Spoon Curve, sending him into a spin and to the back of the field.

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Race stewards took no action against either driver.

Despite the error, Vettel insisted he would make the move again. "If you want to talk about a race incident, I accept this, but we were not able to exploit our potential".

Verstappen took a different view of the collision, though.

Vettel's championship hopes hang on by a thread as the German driver made another crucial mistake that has affected the gap to championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Before the Vettel collision, Verstappen had already had an incident with the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and been given a five-second time penalty to serve at his pitstop. The Ferrari was mostly alongside entering the corner, only for the two to collide. 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.

Raikkonen also felt Verstappen was fully to blame for their tangle, which happened when the Red Bull ran off the road at the chicane on the opening lap while third then banged wheels with the Ferrari as it rejoined.

"He knew that I was there and he just drove into me and pushed me off the track".

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