Lewis Hamilton romped to victory at the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix yesterday to close in on a fourth world title after Sebastian Vettel retired with engine failure on lap four.
The Briton dominated from pole, steering his Mercedes to a crushing eighth win of the year, stretching his Formula One championship lead over Vettel to 59 points with just 100 left to play for.
“Honestly, I could only have dreamed of having this kind of gap,” Hamilton said after holding off a late charge from Max Verstappen in Suzuka.
“The team has done a phenomenal job, they’re just so meticulous so a big thank you to the guys.”
The Red Bulls of Verstappen — who stunned Hamilton to win in Malaysia last week — and Daniel Ricciardo secured a double podium for the second successive race.
Valtteri Bottas finished fourth in the second Mercedes with Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari taking fifth and Esteban Ocon sixth for Force India.
Hamilton celebrated a fourth victory in Japan and a 61st career win with a “Mobot” pose, a tribute to his friend Mo Farah, the Olympic champion athlete, who was watching trackside.
“Max drove an outstanding race and it got very close at the end,” Hamilton said.
“His car was looking so big in my mirrors. It wasn’t a walk in the park today. There’s still a long way to go. Anything can happen in life so I have to keep my head down and hopefully continue to perform like this.”
Vettel’s title hopes, meanwhile, suffered a potentially fatal blow with four races left following a nightmare start from the front row.
Ferrari mechanics worked frantically on the grid to fix a spark plug issue before lights out and Vettel was quickly complaining of a lack of power.
The German plummeted to sixth on the first lap before being told to retire the car.