How Sebastian Vettel's hopes disappeared as pressure took its toll

08 October, 2018, 18:27 | Author: Isabel Grant
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Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix from pole with a controlled and untroubled run at the front of the field. We have still the target this year to win the drivers' and the constructors' championship, that's not done.

The Ferrari downfall coincides with the appointment of Sebastian Vettel in 2015 after the German won four straight Championships with Red Bull from 2010-13 in a supremely fast auto under the guidance of race engineer Adrian Newey.

Vettel, who had an early collision in the race finished 6th after Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen. Vettel knew he had to win here but after qualifying badly the odds were already against him.

The German is now 67 points behind Mercedes' victor Hamilton, who can clinch his fifth Formula One title at the next race in the United States with three rounds to spare. Hamilton was supreme, driving superbly and overshadowing Bottas in what has become in recent races a dominant vehicle.

Much has been said about the relationship between Sebastian Vettel and his current employers Ferrari in recent times.

Vettel knew he had to make up ground quickly if he was to have any hope of stopping Hamilton's apparently unstoppable march to the title which for a long time looked as if it could be the Ferrari driver's.

As a season that began with such promise appeared to be on the brink of collapse, Vettel admitted Ferrari had been under pressure to come up with something special at Suzuka. Hamilton screamed over team radio after his sixth win in the last seven races.

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A brilliant first half to the season previous year saw Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes under serious threat from Ferrari. Clearly, Ferrari doesn't think so, deciding to keep Vettel for next season and replacing the elder statesman in Kimi Raikkonen with the hugely inexperienced Charles Leclerc.

Grosjean still managed to finish eighth at Suzuka, despite also suffering a handling problem that team principal Gunther Steiner said was related to part of the rear suspension "moving". With a 67 point deficit over Hamilton, Vettel's home of taking winning the championship this year seem to be diminishing faster with about 100 points left for grabs.

Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who started seventh on the grid, finished 11th after losing out to Sainz two laps from the end while New Zealander Brendon Hartley, who lined up sixth, fell to 13th at the finish.

Verstappen felt Vettel "drove into the side of my car" in their clash, which the Dutchman likened to their earlier collision in China.

It was an impressive drive from Verstappen, despite a five-second penalty served at his pit stop for rejoining the track dangerously in the incident with Raikkonen.

Verstappen finished third, while Raikkonen fell to fifth and said damage from the collision made his auto "far from ideal" afterwards.



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