Lewis Hamilton wins the Japanese Formula 1 GP in the Mercedes, being pushed to the line by Max Verstappen in the Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel had another championship blow in the Ferrari, having to retire with technical issues.
Hamilton took his 61st career win, from Max Verstappen with teammate Daniel Ricciardo taking the final spot on the podium.
Hamilton took his 8th win of the season and a has a strangle hold on the 2017 championship title, which would be his fourth title if successful.
Hamilton converted his pole into an early lead, while second-placed Vettel began to drop back immediately suffering from loss of power. The signs were ominous as the German missed the obligatory national anthem ceremony as he briefed the Ferrari team on a power issue. The team tried in vain to work on the car on it’s grid spot just before the start. It was clear following lights out, that the German was in trouble. The team instructed to change settings on the Ferrari, however this did not remedy the issue and subsequently radioed Vettel calling for him to retire on lap four.
Verstappen had a great start off the line passing teammate Ricciardo taking 2nd.
Hamilton pulled a gap over Verstappen before the Red Bull driver pitted on lap21 changing from soft to supersoft tyres. Hamilton stopped on the following lap. Ricciardo took over the lead, stopping on lap 25, handing the lead to Valtteri Bottas, who started on soft tyres.
Bottas began to hold up Mercedes teammate Hamilton, allowing Verstappen to close within a second of his rival, but the gap grew once more when Bottas allowed Hamilton through lap 28 and started to hold up Verstappen. Pitting on lap 30, Bottas handed 2nd place back to Versatappen, by which time he had fallen 3.4s adrift of Hamilton.
The Dutchman managed to cut Hamilton’s advantage to a little over two seconds in the ensuing laps, but couldn’t keep up the pace until Hamilton found himself impeded by Fernando Alonso on lap 51 (Alonso was given a penalty from the stewards post race).
That allowed Verstappen to close to within 0.8s at the start of the final lap, but more traffic helped Hamilton escape once more and seal the win by just over a second.
Ricciardo completed the podium in third place, nearly 10 seconds behind the leader.
With four races remaining on the 2017 calendar and 100 points up for grabs, Hamilton’s lead over Vettel is now up to 59 – with teammate Bottas just a further 13 points adrift of the German.