Vettel: Verstappen completely to blame for F1 Japanese GP collision

Ross Houston
October 8, 2018

Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix for Mercedes on Sunday to take a 67 point lead in the Formula One championship and stand on the brink of a fifth title.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, the Briton's closest rival, finished only sixth after an early collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen left the German fighting back from 19th place in a damaged auto.

Finland's Valtteri Bottas secured the Mercedes one-two with second place while Verstappen finished third.

The 33-year-old Englishman needs only eight further points, and will wrap up his fifth title at the United States Grand Prix in a fortnight's time if he takes the chequered flag in Austin, and Vettel is third or lower.

Raikkonen tried to clear him round the outside of the second part of the chicane, only to be forced off by the rejoining Red Bull and fall behind Vettel.

"If I don't go for that gap and that gap was there, I might as well go home".

Much has been said about the relationship between Sebastian Vettel and his current employers Ferrari in recent times.

The German put the blame firmly at the feet of Verstappen after the race, although the Dutchman was naturally quick to defend himself.

He said: "You can't overtake on that corner".

"I had more speed, and he didn't give enough room". Now it is a matter of just when Hamilton closes it out and equals Juan Manuel Fangio's five F1 titles.

With two years left of Hamilton's contract, Hamilton could match the seven world titles of Michael Schumacher while still within his current contract at Mercedes.

When the safety auto went back to the pits, Vettel attacked Verstappen for third but ended up carrying too much speed and made light contact with the Red Bull. He admitted that he knew that Verstappen had a penalty but still insisted on going for the position as he felt the Ferrari had much pace than the Red Bull driver.

Daniel Ricciardo recovered from 15th to fourth, while Kimi Raikkonen was fifth on a desperately torrid afternoon for Ferrari.

Update: Stewards have decided that there will be no penalty awarded to either drivers for the collision.

"I locked up and I could easily have cut the track, [but] I made my best effort to get back on track", Verstappen argued.

Verstappen took a different view of the collision, though.

Hamilton and Bottas held the lead cleanly through turn one but Vettel executed a magnificent first lap from eighth on the grid.

The second Force India of Esteban Ocon came in ninth with Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr 10th. Vettel knew he had to win here but after qualifying badly the odds were already against him.

"I think I got through the whole field without any trouble".

Told by Red Bull team boss Christian Horner that the Ferrari mechanics might be looking for him in the pit lane, Verstappen shrugged: "That's not my problem, they were too aggressive".

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