Sebastian Vettel's F1 Championship Hopes Have Broken With His Engine In Japan

Sebastian Vettel's F1 Championship Hopes Have Broken With His Engine In Japan

Sebastian Vettel's F1 Championship Hopes Have Broken With His Engine In Japan

Lewis Hamilton vowed to "keep the pedal to the metal" and dismissed the notion that he has one hand on the Formula One world championship after increasing his lead over a luckless Sebastian Vettel at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Victories in Belgium, Italy, Singapore and Japan as well as a runner-up finish in Malaysia have seen Hamilton pull away from Vettel, who accrued just 45 points to his rival's 118.

Vettel suffered a problem with a spark plug which cost him power and the team retired his auto after four laps.

Vettel tried to point to Ferrari's level of competitiveness as a positive aspect of its season while saying he would not give up on the title despite Hamilton being able to wrap up the championship at the next race at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

Heading to U.S. Grand Prix in two weeks time, Hamilton needs to outscore Vettel by 17 points to be crowned champion with three races remaining.

However, there was always a feeling Hamilton had something extra in the tank, and infuriatingly for Verstappen, a late run-off from Lance Stroll prompted another virtual safety auto in the final stages.

With Vettel sidelined and Mercedes back up to speed after two lacklustre weekends, Hamilton's afternoon should have consisted of a straightforward drive to victory but late tyre vibrations allowed Verstappen to reel him in. "I've just got to try to keep my head down and hopefully continue to perform like this".

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Vettel's early retirement put a serious dent in his fading hopes of coming back to win the championship.

Nevertheless, Verstappen was delighted with his P2 on the day and hailed Red Bull's ever-improving RB13. "From there on I could basically do my own race", he said.

After just four laps, he was forced to retire - and now Ferrari president Maurizio Arrivabene has confirmed that the engineers were in a race against time to deal with the eventually terminal engine problem. But also you try to look after your vehicle.

Hamilton is the only driver to finish in the points at every race this season, winning eight races and finishing on the podium three other times.

"I think it's kind of unbelievable, really, to think we are where we are". His teammate Kimi Raikkonen also had auto trouble all weekend, but managed to finish fifth after starting down in 11th place.

Williams driver Felipe Massa held off a stern challenge from McLaren's Fernando Alonso for the final point, helped by a late virtual safety vehicle.

Force India duo Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez were "best of the rest" in sixth and seventh, while the Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean came in eighth and ninth, the former barging his way by Massa with 10 laps or so to go.

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