Japanese Grand Prix 2017: Could Verstappen or Ricciardo have won?

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His fifth win in the past seven races, plus a spark plug failure that forced his rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, to retire after only four laps means the Mercedes driver holds an nearly insurmountable points lead going into the final four races of the season.

His overtaking moves have also drawn criticism from some established stars but, already the sport's youngest victor, he has an admirer in Hamilton. At 59 points, Hamilton would nearly certainly need to suffer a retirement of his own for Vettel to close in on him by season's end, as the four races remaining offer enough points for Vettel to leapfrog Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver can clinch the title at the next race in Texas if he wins and Vettel fails to finish in the top five, yet even with a sizeable advantage Hamilton is in no mood to ease up. Obviously it's good for him, and obviously what happened today was very good for his championship fight.

Hamilton pointed to his team's consistency on and off the track as the reason why he is in such an enviable position. We're quick in the qualifying trim. "I just felt a couple of things so you just point out things that you might forget to tell them".

"I could only have dreamed of having this kind of gap". "Jeez he looked so big in my mirrors, but I'm really grateful the vehicle stuck in and I didn't make any mistakes, so I'm really proud of that", he said. They've done a phenomenal job, reliability has really been on point. The points are still what you go out there to achieve. Ocon was next to blink, but a slow stop saw him exit the pits in 12th place just behind McLaren's Fernando Alonso.

In a championship in which Ferrari and Mercedes have been so closely matched, Vettel has seen his title hopes torn to shreds at the last three rounds.

"To be honest there is not really any need to change my approach", he said.

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These collections will not be the complete picture as these two months were early transitional phase. While Amit Shah cut short his tour of Kerala, Jaitley returned from Dhaka for the meeting.

"I think it was a small issue causing a big one". Ferrari, without enough time to fix the issue, made a decision to take the risk, and field Vettel's auto.

The Ferrari driver skipped the pre-race ceremony to remain by his auto, as mechanics worked to address the spark plug problem that would put him out of the race. Moments later, Bottas allowed Hamilton to pass through, and now the Red Bull was stuck behind him.

Vettel was leading the championship after the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August, and just three points behind following Hamilton's victory in Italy a week later, but has haemorrhaged points over Formula 1's three late-season races in Asia.

"But I need to protect them [Ferrari]".

"I think we are improving race by race, we've got a lot further than people have thought so there's also some positives", he added.

The formation lap went smooth, and soon as the lights went out Hamilton managed to hold Vettel off, the two were followed by Ricciardo and Verstappen. "It looks like we are not going to have the exciting run in to the end of the year that going into the summer break it looked like it would be".

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