Vettel's F1 title hopes fading fast after early Japan retirement

Vettel's F1 title hopes fading fast after early Japan retirement

Vettel, on the other hand, has seen a campaign in which he has won four times go well and truly off the rails when he crashed out in Singapore and failed to challenge in Japan after a spark-plug problem caused him to retire after just four laps.

Ferrari was forced to change a spark plug on Vettel's vehicle on the grid after finding an issue, only for the German to report a lack of power soon after the race starting.

Back at the front, Hamilton was in control easing away from Verstappen's Red Bull, despite a Virtual Safety Car period on lap 8 when Marcus Ericsson put his Sauber in the barriers at Degner.

Later in the race, it was not really a case of Ricciardo challenging for the win, but more of him holding off a resurgent Valtteri Bottas for the final podium position.

Fernando Alonso was unlucky not to take that last points place, having started at the back of the grid, but Vandoorne in the second McLaren could only manage 14th, three places down on where he started the race. "I've just got to try and keep my head down and hopefully continue to perform like this". Of course it hurts, and we are all disappointed. They have done an incredible job so far. I'm not really particularly taking insane risks in order to be in the position I'm in.

Lewis Hamilton says he is taking nothing for granted in the title race despite opening a huge lead with victory in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Nevertheless, Verstappen was delighted with his P2 on the day and hailed Red Bull's ever-improving RB13.

"Once I got past Seb I could do my own thing", he said. Moments later Ocon was also passed by Bottas, who was the highest-placed driver to have started the race on soft tyres.

Sebastian Vettel's title hopes crumbled after his Ferrari was forced into an early retirement as a result of more engine issues.

"After the penalty on Friday night, due to the engine change, I think we deserved that one point - we fought hard for it". They [Hamilton and Verstappen] were first and second with two laps to go and they finished first and second so I don't think it was determinant for the race.

Race victor Lewis Hamilton: "We have had such a great crowd this week you always look after us so well and the support was enormous. I am really happy about that".

"It's a circuit I've always enjoyed, and with this year's vehicle it's a lot of fun". Kimi Raikkonen took his Ferrari to fifth place, to at least help salvage the 2017 Japanese GP for his team.

Williams driver Felipe Massa held off a stern challenge from McLaren's Fernando Alonso for the final point, helped by a late virtual safety auto.