Briton Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) made a big step towards the drivers’ title by winning Sunday’s Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, in which his championship rival, German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), quickly abandoned.
Hamilton now has 59 points ahead of Vettel in the Formula 1 drivers championship and is in a good position to get the championship at the Grand Prix of the United States in two weeks in Austin, Texas if Vettel does no better than sixth.
Lewis Hamilton, started from pole-position, was ahead of the Red Bull of Dutchman Max Verstappen and Australian Daniel Ricciardo to clinch the 61st win of his career, the eighth this season.
In the three final laps of a race hitherto quiet enough for him, Hamilton suddenly complains of abnormal vibrations of the engine block and had to withstand the pressure of Verstappen who returned to less than a second at the end of the race.
Relieved after passing the finish line, the triple world champion knelt, still helmeted, in front of his car.
“It was an incredible race and not easy because the Red Bulls were very quick today,” said Hamilton.
“Tires have become cold late in the race and I had to handle the traffic,” he said with a big smile on the podium.
“I never dreamed to have this phenomenal lead after the race, I have to thank my team for reliability that has given me this season,” praised the Briton.
With this success, he indeed bears a terrible blow to Vettel, who gave up Sunday at the 5th lap of the Grand Prix, due to a spark plug problem.
The German told his team he met a power problem from the formation lap. He then spent the engine speed in the default mode, without result, and was forced to pit to give up.
Ferrari had already experienced a series of mechanical problems at the Malaysian Grand Prix a week ago, where Vettel was unable to take part in qualifying and last party was moved up to 4th place.
This is the second retirement of the season for Vettel, who had been caught in a clash with his Finnish teammate Kimi Räikkönen and Verstappen from the start of the Singapore Grand Prix three weeks ago.
The French Esteban Ocon (Force India) finished in sixth place ahead of his teammate Sergio Perez of Mexico.