Hamilton cruises to win at Japanese GP, closes in on title

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP talks to fans at the autograph signing session during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit

Max Verstappen completed the podium as Vettel endured yet another miserable afternoon following his crash with the Red Bull driver in the early stages of Sunday's Suzuka race.

Verstappen pushed the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen off the track in an eventful race. Each week you have a positive weekend you go to another grand prix not sure how you will perform, but we have gone from strength to strength and Austin is a good track for me.

Despite switching to dry tyres mid-session, both Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel crucially made mistakes on their sole runs at Spoon Curve, and with their second attempts hampered by heavy rain they were both forced to abort the lap - with Vettel a lowly ninth by the end of the session.

Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position in qualifying for the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

"I'm grateful to have delivered and that the team delivered".

"It's really just such an honour to race for this team, for the guys".

"The last six years with this team have been incredible and I'm so proud of everyone and so grateful for everyone's hard work which has enabled me to go out and exploit my own abilities".

"I can't believe that I have 80 and I couldn't have done this without the team".

Reflecting on Ferrari's tyre strategy at the beginning of the session that handed the team an uncontested front-row lockout, Hamilton paid tribute to the experience of his Mercedes pit wall.

"Obviously it wasn't wet enough to start with and then the rain didn't come, it came later".




"Obviously it's not the position we deserve to be in".

"At the last couple of races we made it a bit too easy for them but also credit to them as they executed well, which is the name of the game".

Afterwards Verstappen said: "You can't overtake in that corner".

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted Hamilton was very close to joining the Ferraris on intermediate tyres in Q3 and while please to have ultimately made the correct call in abandoning that compound, he refused to take a whack at his title-rivals.

Romain Grosjean finished fifth for Haas ahead of Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley.

While the Dutchman celebrated, team mate Daniel Ricciardo was left hoarse with anger after a power unit problem sidelined him during the second phase of qualifying before he had set a time. Ricciardo furiously climbed from his auto, swearing loudly from inside his helmet.

Esteban Ocon was eighth, ahead of Vettel, with his Force India teammate Sergio Perez rounding out the top 10.

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland steers his vehicle during the third practice session for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018.

"I could feel the vehicle was jumping around, it didn't feel healthy".

With Ericsson out of the running, practice pace suggested both McLaren and Williams would occupy the rest of the drop-zone positions, but Canadian Lance Stroll sprung a surprise by beating Renault's Nico Hulkenberg to P15.

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