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Hamilton wins at Suzuka as rival Vettel retires – Race Report

Japanese Grand Prix – Lewis Hamilton has won from pole position at Suzuka while his title rival Sebastian Vettel retired early in the race.

Hamilton led off the line and for the majority of the race, losing the lead only during the pit stop phase to his team mate Valtteri Bottas who let him by the final chicane.

Championship challenger Vettel suffered a spark plug issue on the grid which required a speedy fix from the Ferrari mechanics.

The issue, however, persisted and the German lacked straight line speed and plummeted down the order before the team pulled him into the garage.

Vettel now has more than two wins between him and Hamilton in the championship with a 59-point deficit. This gives Hamilton a chance to wrap up the title at the next round in Austin.

Max Verstappen was second for Red Bull. He got a better start than team mate Daniel Ricciardo who he shared the second row with and took third into the first corner. He then pounced on Vettel at the hairpin for second.

Daniel Ricciardo made it a double podium for Red Bull despite losing out to Esteban Ocon at the start. The Australian swept past the Force India on the outside of Turn 1 following a virtual safety car period at the start to take the podium places.

He fended off Bottas at the end of the race who recovered from sixth on the grid after taking a gearbox penalty. He started on the soft tyre which put him on the quicker supersofts at the end.

Kimi Raikkonen pulled the same strategy after starting tenth on the grid having received the same penalty. His job was made harder by Nico Hulkenberg, who eased Raikkonen off the track at Spoon Curve on the opening lap which dropped the Finn down the order.

Ocon kept Sergio Perez at bay for sixth. The Mexican was told to hold station after he asked if he could attack his team mate.

It was a similar story at Haas with Kevin Magnussen ahead of Romain Grosjean for eighth and ninth. The pair were locked in a battle with Felipe Massa’s Williams, ending with Magnussen diving up the inside of Turn 2 and making minor contact having lost the back end of his Haas at the apex. Grosjean followed him through as Massa was pushed wide.

Massa then held off Alonso for the final points-paying position after the Spaniard charged from the back of the grid.

Carlos Sainz Jr’s final race for Toro Rosso ended as quickly as it started as he lost the back end of his car in the Esses section on the opening lap and was out of the race. He joins Renault alongside Hulkenberg for the remainder of the season.

The German also had a difficult race, as he retired when his DRS got stuck open. He was also running a contrary strategy and had just put on the supersoft tyre to chase down the top ten when the issue struck.

Marcus Ericsson brought out the virtual safety car when he put his Sauber in the tyre barrier at Degner 2.

In the closing stages of the race Lance Stroll was forced to park his Williams when his suffered a front-right puncture into Turn 3 which caused him to skip across the gravel.

Race results.

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Chris Stevens

Chris is a member of the Autosport Academy and has been writing about motorsport professionally since 2015. He has been one of the top Formula E journalists since he went to Donington Park for pre-season testing a week after picking up his A-Level results.

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