SUZUKA, Japan – Lewis Hamilton dominated Suzuka from start to finish to win the Japanese Grand Prix yesterday and close in on his fifth Formula One world title.
The 33-year-old Brit took the chequered flag 12 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, with Red Bull’s maverick Max Verstappen rounding out the podium, to once again confirm his quality.
Hamilton’s victory saw him move to 331 points and stretch his lead to 67 over nemesis Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari who could only finish sixth, in a further blow to his title chances.
With four races left in the 2018 season, Hamilton is now the heavy favourite for his third title in four years but said he was not getting ahead of himself.
“Honestly, I’ll take it one step at a time,” said Hamilton, whose paternal grandparents were born in Grenada.
“Each week you have a positive weekend and you go to another Grand Prix and you’re not sure how you’re going to fare and how you’re going to perform because there are still gaps in between.
“ But I think we have gone from strength to strength this year as a team, so I really hope that we can [win]. Austin is usually a good track for us, so I can’t wait to unleash this beast there.”
Hamilton can win the title in Austin in a fortnight once he finishes eight points clear of Vettel. And the scenario is entirely possible especially since he has swept the last four races there and won six of the last seven at the Texas venue.
On Sunday, Hamilton drove like a champion-in-waiting. He started on pole following his domination of weekend qualifying, got away nicely from the grid, safely navigated the restart on lap seven following a collision on lap four between Charles Leclerc and Kevin Magnussen, and then hardly put a foot wrong for the remainder of the contest.
“I loved it. I was actually very, very happy,” Hamilton told reporters.
“I think the whole weekend’s been very strong from the team. It’s a great one-two from Mercedes, it a true showing of the great strength in depth we have as a team. This track is the best track in the world. I don’t know why they don’t make tracks like this anymore but every second of the run it was just great fun.
“I was able to look after my tyres the way I wanted and just managed the pace. It’s really weird – obviously, I have been racing a long, long time, but the happiness I have inside is as high as always. It’s a great feeling.”