F1 – Japanese GP – Race
The Honda-owned Suzuka International Racing Course hosts round 17 of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship. We’re really at the business end of the season now, and Sebastian Vettel desperately needs to beat Lewis Hamilton here. The German driver is rapidly running out of opportunities to close the 50-point gap that exists in the championship.
Pre-event, a number of the pundits were stating that this circuit is one that’s very difficult to overtake on. They may have to rethink that point of view as today’s race saw a tonne of passes along with many collisions, including some – quite frankly – amateur driving.
Lewis Hamilton led away from pole with Valtteri Bottas holding station in 2nd place. The key action was behind with Sebastian Vettel having a really strong start to gain a number of spots by the end of the opening lap.
Max Verstappen had an interesting start to the race. In the early stages, the Dutchman broke too late into the final chicane, locked up, ran wide, and shoved Kimi Raikkonen off the track while rejoining – that would gain him a five-second time penalty. Not too long later, Max would then have a collision with the other Ferrari. However, this time, it was the Ferrari’s fault. Vettel was far too optimistic on entry to spoon corner, trying to overtake on the inside, and the two cars collided sending Vettel spinning off track. Both would continue but as this happened just after a safety car when the field were bunched up, the German driver would have to wait to rejoin the circuit – and ended up down in 19th position! Absolute disaster for his title aspirations – but one that was his own doing.
The aforementioned safety car was for Kevin Magnussen’s wheel debris after Charles Leclerc went into the back of him, causing a puncture for the Dane. Leclerc would realise how that felt himself when Marcus Ericsson would tap his diffuser during the subsequent safety car. It was only a small kiss for the two Sauber’s though.
The remainder of the race consisted of Daniel Ricciardo and Vettel recovering up through the field, along with an extremely tight midfield battle playing out.
Lewis Hamilton would take home a rare lights-to-flag victory; he was unchallenged all day really. Valtteri Bottas came home in 2nd place and Verstappen rounded out the podium – that’s his third podium in a row on this circuit. Ricciardo would finish 4th with the two Ferrari’s 5th & 6th; Kimi Raikkonen was ahead. Sergio Perez won division two ahead of Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz who grabbed the final point for Renault.
The gap between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel is now a huge 67 points. There are only a possible 100 points remaining. Surely there’s no-one out there who thinks Sebastian can come back from this now?