Lewis Hamilton has won at Suzuka and is pretty close to the world championship after another Vettel’s DNF. The Mercedes driver, however, has had to fight not to lose the race in favour of Verstappen, who has been second. Ricciardo completes the podium.
The race began and Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel retained the first two places. Max Verstappen overtook Daniel Ricciardo for the third. The Australian was also surpassed by Esteban Ocon. From behind, Carlos Sainz hit the wall and retired. Kimi Räikkönen was off the track after being outclassed by Nico Hülkenberg and lost many places.
Verstappen overtook Vettel, who had power problems at the end of the first lap and was outscored by Ocon, Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. The safety car came out because of Sainz‘s car.
The SC left on lap 4. Sergio Perez overtook Vettel for the sixth and Pascal Wehrlein stopped in the pits. Vettel continued to lose positions and retired the car at the end of the lap. On lap 8, Marcus Ericsson went off track at Degner and crashed into the wall. Virtual Safety Car was deployed. While the race was neutralised, Stoffel Vandoorne, who had made a poor start and was down in the table, stopped.
When resuming the race, Ricciardo surpassed Ocon for the third place. On the next lap, Force India’s Frenchman was also advanced by Bottas. On lap 20, Räikkönen, who had already gained several places, overcame Perez for the sixth position. A lap later, the Finn was fifth, as Ocon made his stop.
On lap 22, Verstappen and Perez stopped. Hamilton did it on the next lap. The Force India were ahead of the drivers who had not yet stopped and, ahead, Ricciardo stopped in lap 25, being the driver that made more laps with the supersoft tyre. Bottas, who had not stopped, let Hamilton pass, who returned to the lead. Räikkönen stopped on lap 28 and came out ahead of the Force India.
On lap 30, after containing Verstappen so that he could not attack Hamilton, Bottas stopped and returned to track fourth, behind Ricciardo. On lap 38, Hülkenberg pitted and, on lap 39, so did Jolyon Palmer, the two drivers who had not yet done so. The German had to return to the pit, as the DRS of his Renault did not close, and retired.
In the fight for the last places of points, Felipe Massa was making the two Haas lose some precious time. On lap 43, after many attempts, Kevin Magnussen outperformed the Brazilian. The two drivers touched and Massa also lost position with Romain Grosjean.
Towards the end of the race, Bottas was being much faster than Ricciardo, and was approaching the Red Bull driver. On lap 47, Lance Stroll went off track for a puncture and retired. Another VSC came out.
The race resumed on lap 50, and Massa could have problems arising from the touch with Magnussen. He saw his tenth position threatened by Fernando Alonso. In the second-to-last lap, Hamilton reported problems with the rear tyres, and Verstappen got closer, but the British recovered a slight difference.
This difference, favoured by the passive attitude of Massa and Alonso at the time of being lapped, was enough for Hamilton to take the victory, the eighth of the season, and has taken a big step towards his fourth world title. Verstappen has been second, achieving his second consecutive podium. Ricciardo achieved, with the third place, his ninth podium of the season. Bottas, Räikkönen, Ocon, Pérez, Magnussen, Grosjean and Massa complete the points zone.
These results greatly expand Hamilton‘s distance over Vettel in the championship, with 59 points over the German. This implies that, in the next race, if Hamilton wins and Vettel is sixth or worse, he will be champion. Bottas is third, 13 points behind Vettel. The next race will be held in the United States in two weeks.
|2||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||+1.211s|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||+9.679s|
|6||Esteban Ocon||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||+67.788s|
|7||Sergio Perez||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||+71.424s|
|8||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||+88.953s|
|9||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||+89.883s|
|10||Felipe Massa||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||+1 lap|
|11||Fernando Alonso||MCLAREN HONDA||+1 lap|
|12||Jolyon Palmer||RENAULT||+1 lap|
|13||Pierre Gasly||TORO ROSSO||+1 lap|
|14||Stoffel Vandoorne||MCLAREN HONDA||+1 lap|
|15||Pascal Wehrlein||SAUBER FERRARI||+2 laps|
|NC||Lance Stroll||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||DNF|
|NC||Marcus Ericsson||SAUBER FERRARI||DNF|
|NC||Carlos Sainz||TORO ROSSO||DNF|