After qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix the stage was set for a much anticipated showdown between world championship title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, but a faulty spark plug on the Ferrari denied us all what could have been an intriguing battle which the Mercedes driver was relishing.
Hamilton on pole and Vettel second on the grid had all the makings of a blockbuster, but within four laps the Ferrari driver was back in the pits while the Mercedes man roared to his eighth victory of the season and with it increase his championship lead to 59 points with four rounds remaining.
After the race Hamilton said, “I was excited actually to have a good race with Sebastian here but he’s been incredibly unfortunate through no fault of his own.”
Indeed it was the second race in a row where Vettel has been struck by technical gremlins, and part of a series of issues that have plagued the Italian team since the season resumed after the summer break in Belgium. Prior to that Vettel led Hamilton by 14 points in the standings.
Hamilton added, “In the world of Formula 1 today, it is a lot about the reliability, it’s about the team’s whole performance, not just the speed on the track and [my] team have shown for years now that we have a very solid platform, the guys do a phenomenal job in terms of how they build the car and also reliability so Mercedes are real leaders in that.”
“I really want to thank everyone back at the factory for providing me with a car that I can really utilise my abilities in and so big thank you to everyone back at the factory. And it’s still a long way to go – still 100 points.”
As for the 59 points lead, Hamilton said, “That’s a lot of points and anything can happen in life, so I’m just going to try and keep my head down and hopefully continue to perform like this but I feel very, very fortunate and we’ve got to enjoy the experience.”
Hamilton who could secure his fourth F1 world championship title if he outscores Vettel by more than 16 points in Austin on 22 October.