Lewis Hamilton built on his championship run with a start to finish lead at the 2018 Suzuka Japanese GP. Bottas continued his run with a second spot while Ferrari seemed to lose the plot with strategy errors and with an over eager Sebastian Vettel knocking away his efforts with a spin.
Lewis Hamilton had the advantage right at the start with a brilliant pole position. Vettel on the other hand would start under penalties on the grid, bumped up from ninth to eighth, due to Ocon’s own penalty. Vettel took the start eager to make up with a run that took him up to fourth where he had to make a manoeuvre to overtake Verstappen’s Red Bull. The resultant knock sent Vettel’s Ferrari spinning and forced him to wait for the train of cars following to get ahead before rejoining at 19th. Verstappen had already hit the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
The same sort of aggressive driving saw Alonso pushed off track by Lance Stroll’s Williams. Both picked up five second penalties, Stroll for the manoeuvre and Alonso for gaining an advantage as he got back on track.
The safety car had been called out on lap 4 as a result of a bad overtake move going wrong between Charles Leclerc and Kevin Magnussen, with the Haas shedding debris as Magnussen made his way back round the track to the pits on a shredded rear tyre.
Despite some strategy errors the race restart on lap seven saw Vettel back in the race, while Ricciardo was doing his bit to catch up places too. Pit stop errors saw Raikkonen caught out by traffic, allowing Ricciardo up to fourth.
That’s what the end stages looked like with Lewis Hamilton sailing out front, Valtteri Bottas holding off Max Verstappen for second and Ricciardo bringing in the second Red Bull for fourth. The two Ferrari drivers Raikkonen and Vettel made up the next two spots, giving Hamilton a further 17 point lead over Vettel.
Hamilton said , “I was having so much fun driving this track. I was really able to just embrace the moment and enjoy every single lap, every single corner and the feel of the car. Suzuka is such a unique circuit, you go down a hill into Turn 1, then up-hill, you go underneath the track – it’s one of my favourite circuits. The pace was really great and this is definitely the best weekend I’ve had here and the best feeling I’ve had here balance-wise, it was really lovely. Everyone at the track and back home in the factories deserves a huge thank you for their continued efforts, they just continue to push and deliver, weekend after weekend. This result was really the best way to repay all their hard work. “
With the current positions, the championship may well be decided at the US GP if Mercedes manage a one-two finish.
2018 Formula 1 Drivers
|Car No||Name||Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||216||168|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||146||200|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||57||100|
|31||Esteban Ocon||Force India||49||87|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||29||0|
|28||Brendan Hartley||Toro Rosso||4||0|
2018 Formula 1 Teams
|Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|Red Bull Racing||362||368|
|Force India Mercedes||47||187|
|Toro Rosso Honda||33||53|
2018 Formula 1 Races
|Mexico||28/10/2018||Max Verstappen||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|United States||21/10/2018||Kimi Raikkonen||Max Verstappen||Lewis Hamilton|
|Japan||07/10/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Russia||20/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Sebastian Vettel|
|Singapore||16/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Sebastian Vettel|
|Italy||02/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen||Valtteri Bottas|
|Belgium||26/08/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen|
|Hungary||29/07/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Germany||22/07/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Britain||08/07/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Austria||01/07/2018||Max Verstappen||Kimi Raikkonen||Sebastian Vettel|
|France||24/06/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Canada||10/06/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Monaco||27/05/2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton|
|Spain||13/05/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Azerbaijan||29/04/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen||Sergio Perez|
|China||15/04/2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Valtteri Bottas||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Bahrain||04/04/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas||Lewis Hamilton|
|Australia||25/03/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen|