Monday, 18 December, 2017

Japanese Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel reprimanded for anthem absence

The Finn's brush with the barrier saw his practice session come to an early end at Suzuka The Finn's brush with the barrier saw his practice session come to an early end at Suzuka
Christy Curtis | 09 October, 2017, 00:30

Lewis Hamilton moved within reach of a fourth Formula One world championship on Sunday after winning a Japanese Grand Prix that saw Ferrari title rival Sebastian Vettel retire with engine problems.

Championship rival Sebastian Vettel retired from the race with a spark plug failure, and it has emerged that Mercedes had to change a faulty spark plug on Hamilton's auto after qualifying because it had discovered a problem with it.

At the end of the opening lap Vettel had dropped to sixth and while an early safety auto period - to retrieve the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, after the Spaniard spun off - gave the German some breathing room, he was forced to pit on lap four and park his Ferrari, his second DNF in three races.

He first lost a place to Max Verstappen at the hairpin and then Esteban Ocon, before falling down the field.

Should Mr. Hamilton win the US Grand Prix in 2 weeks he will cinch the drivers championship for 2017.

The German, who had to fight down to the last race before securing his title, expressed disappointment at the latest in a sequence of setbacks for Ferrari's leading contender Sebastian Vettel.

"I could see Lewis managing his tyres and, with traffic, it seemed hard for him to follow other cars compared to me", said Verstappen.

For Verstappen who drove a phenomenal race from start to finish, a final attempt to overtake Hamilton was thwarted by McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who blocked him while the blue flags were being waved.

The Toro Rosso driver looked solid in Suzuka as he held off the challenges of Pascal Wehrlein and Stoffel Vandoorne to finish just outside the points. But obviously it was good for us as a team. They have done an incredible job so far.

"Suzuka is great to me, I really love this track".

Lewis Hamilton says he is taking nothing for granted in the title race despite opening a huge lead with victory in the Japanese Grand Prix. The other Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo finished at third place competing the podium. That said, Vettel's odds remain unfavorable, even if Hamilton is sidelined by mechanical problems of his own. It's just a pity in the two races with the reliability issues.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said: "This is a sport where you take no prisoners and reliability is part of making it to the end and we have been there in the last few years". "They just told me when to do it really and I kind of got the point, I understood completely the situation. We have a lot of positives but today is not a day to look at positives". "At least I tried", he said, happy to be on the podium.

"It's a circuit I've always enjoyed, and with this year's auto it's a lot of fun". Williams' Felipe Massa completed the top 10 with a late surge.

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