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Lewis Hamilton can win fifth F1 world title at United States GP

07 October, 2018, 14:23 | Author: Lula Armstrong
  • Mario Isola Pirelli Racing Manager in the FIA Press Conference

"Obviously, I had a mistake at Spoon so I lost most of the time there but obviously the second run we didn't make it out on time because the rain came".

"With Seb, it's just not a corner where you can overtake", he said, while an unrepentant Vettel obviously begged to differ. Hamilton had been strong all weekend topping all three practice sessions before taking pole and in the race he exploited his advantage to maximum effect.

"If it starts to rain five, six, seven minutes earlier, we did a miracle", added the German, who trails Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton by 50 points with just 125 left in play. He was quick off the line and had passed the Toro Rosso's of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley by the time he was into the esses to take sixth and the Haas of Romain Grosjean fell swiftly afterwards.

Ferrari's wrong decision to run intermediates at the start of the session meant its drivers were not out on track when it was driest, and Hamilton's main title rival Sebastian Vettel could qualify no better than ninth.

When the safety vehicle period ended on lap eight Vettel attacked Verstappen, who had been handed a five-second penalty for the Raikkonen incident.

Verstappen though was unrepentant and called his penalty "stupid".

Raikkonen drifted further away from the Red Bulls in fifth, while Vettel gradually made his way back to sixth - but by the time he was clear of the rest of the field, he was a minute behind Hamilton and 40 seconds behind Raikkonen. Perhaps the stewards viewed the puncture as punishment enough, but in an incident-packed Japanese Grand Prix, this had the biggest potential for a serious accident.


Ricciardo was now the man on the move, having moved from 15th to 10th before the safety auto. Out came the safety auto after debris littered the track following a coming together between Kevin Magnussen and Charles Leclerc.

The Australian was now behind Raikkonen, who kicked off the first pit stop window with a switch to the medium tire on lap 18 in an attempt to undercut Verstappen, but he exited pit lane into midfield traffic, slowing his progress.

The former Ferrari diver is a popular member inside the paddock, especially with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo as the duo exchanged a friendly hug on the grid in the moments leading up to the race. Hamilton complained intermittently of hesitations from his power unit from the lead, but he had no discernable difficulty keeping a five-second gap to his teammate in second place.

But behind him, there was action aplenty, much of it focused on Vettel.

Perez, however, had his opportunity to pass when Leclerc triggered a virtual safety vehicle on lap 41.

Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was eliminated in Q1, having had his first run compromised by a red flag caused by Marcus Ericsson crashing in Turn 7.

Esteban Ocon was eighth, ahead of Vettel, with his Force India teammate Sergio Perez rounding out the top 10.

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