Vettel and Verstappen collide in Japan

Vettel defends Ferrari as tyre gamble falls flat

Lewis Hamilton wins Japanese GP & closes on fifth world title

Sebastian Vettel tore into Red Bull's Max Verstappen for a hair-raising collision in Japan on Sunday that all but killed off the German's fading Formula One title hopes. "I even gave him space but he understeered into my auto", said Verstappen. The result opened up the gap between the pair to 67 points with four races left.

Indeed, the move smelt of desperation, and it marked Vettel's second mistake of the weekend, after he ran off track in qualifying, and his seventh of an error-prone campaign.

"I was pushing to get past".

Standing over his vehicle, the Briton said: "Austin is usually a good track for us, so I can't wait to unleash this beast there".

Meanwhile, Verstappen was able to maintain third ahead of Raikkonen but soon dropped to fourth behind Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who started 15th on the grid.

Hamilton started from pole and held on to the position till the end of the race.

It was an impressive drive from Verstappen, despite a five-second penalty served at his pit stop for rejoining the track dangerously in the incident with Raikkonen.

Verstappen went on to finish third regardless, and when told by team principal Christian Horner after the race that he would not be "too popular with Ferrari and the Italians", he jovially replied: "That's not my problem, they were too aggressive". Hamilton was supreme, driving superbly and overshadowing Bottas in what has become in recent races a dominant auto.

"We knew that we had a good race at Monza, high-speed track, and we had a good one in Singapore, twisty and hot".

The team itself hasn't helped out matters and when 2017 posed a genuine title challenge, they slipped up, with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton taking advantage and winning the Championship yet again.

Vettel came from too far back, and clumsily thudded into the side of Verstappen as sparks flew and the Ferrari vehicle spun around.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates the 71st victory of his career.

Raikkonen was also in a dark mood after an incident on the opening lap when Verstappen drove over the grass at the chicane before bumping into his Ferrari.

Bottas hadn't demonstrated as much pace as last weekend but was still backing up Hamilton in second. I saw a gap and went for it on the inside, he obviously tried to defend and I couldn't go anywhere, so we touched.

Race stewards took no action against either driver.

The German resumed in 19th and scythed his way back through the field, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. The Ferrari was mostly alongside entering the corner, only for the two to collide.

"But it's not always right that the other guy has to move".

Force India's Sergio Perez won the battle for best of the rest, from Haas' Romain Grosjean, the second Force India of Esteban Ocon and Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly.

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