There was plenty of action on Sunday at the 2018 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix though not at the front of the pack were Mercedes-AMG cemented another one-two finish, with star driver Lewis Hamilton claiming the win and teammate Valtteri Bottas crossing the line 12.919 seconds later.
Hamilton started the race on pole and was never really challenged from there. The same couldn’t be said for the only other title contender, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, whose tough weekend started during Saturday’s qualifying and continued into Sunday’s race where he suffered a spin early which was then followed with contact with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen at the Suzuka Circuit’s Spoon curve.
Vettel wasn’t the only driver who tussled with the Dutch youngster. At the end of the opening lap, Verstappen went straight on at the chicane and as he rejoined he nearly took out Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen. The incident was investigated by the stewards who gave Verstappen a 5.0-second penalty. It didn’t matter though as the Red Bull driver still claimed the third podium spot, finishing 14.295 seconds behind Hamilton.
Further down, a fantastic recovery drive from fellow Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo saw the Australian go from 15th on the grid to fourth at the end of the race. He was followed by Räikkönen and Vettel in fifth and sixth places, respectively.
Other incidents included one between Alfa Romeo Sauber driver Charles Leclerc and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen early in the race, with Leclerc forced into the rear of Magnussen after the Haas driver moved across the track at the last minute to defend his line. Magnussen suffered a punctured tire while Leclerc lost his front wing.
Also worth a mention was the incident between McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Williams’ Lance Stroll going into the chicane on lap one. Alonso was forced off the track by Stroll who received a 5.0-second penalty for the move. Alonso was granted the same penalty though, as the stewards determined he gained an advantage by driving across the gravel instead of rejoining the race earlier.
Hamilton’s fifth F1 title now looks safe as his standing in the 2018 Drivers’ Championship has soared to 331 points with Vettel a distant second with 264 points. Bottas is third with 207 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 538 points versus the 460 of Ferrari and 319 of Red Bull. The next race on the calendar is the United States Grand Prix in a fortnight.