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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Lewis Hamilton wins Japanese Grand Prix to take big step towards fourth world title after Sebastian Vettel retires

Spark plug failure puts the Ferrari driver out as Hamilton wins for the eighth time in 2017.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates on top of his Mercedes-GP car after winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Toru Hanai / Reuters
Lewis Hamilton celebrates on top of his Mercedes-GP car after winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Toru Hanai / Reuters

Lewis Hamilton took a big step towards winning his fourth Formula One drivers' world title with victory in the Japanese Grand Prix as rival Sebastian Vettel failed to finish.

The Briton took the 61st win of his career, and eighth of 2017, in his Mercedes-GP car ahead of the Red Bull Racing cars of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo at Suzuka, after converting pole position into the lead at the start and controlling the race from there on.

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A spark plug failure ruined Vettel's race as the Ferrari driver, who had started second, lost power on the opening lap and fell back through the pack before retiring at the end of Lap 4.

Vettel now trails Hamilton by 59 points with only a maximum of 100 remaining to be won in the last four races of the season in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

"I could have only dreamed about having such a gap in the standings," Hamilton said in his podium interview. "I owe everything to the team. They are meticulous."

Hamilton can win his fourth title in Austin on October 22 if he wins the race and Vettel is no better than sixth, or if he is second and Vettel finishes outside the top eight.

"We are disappointed but we need to get some rest and go flat out for the next few races," Vettel told Sky Sports. "We still have a chance this year. The team is in a good way, we are improving race by race. We got a lot further than people thought so there are some positives."

Hamilton finished 1.2 seconds ahead of Verstappen after coming under late pressure from the Dutchman.

The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was fourth, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari's, with the Force Indias of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez sixth and seventh.

The Haas cars of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were eighth and ninth, with the Williams of Felipe Massa completing the top 10.

Formula One top 10 drivers' standings after Japan

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 306
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari 247
3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes 234
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull 192
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 148
6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull 111
7. Sergio Perez, Force India 82
8. Esteban Ocon, Force India 65
9. Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso 48
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault 34