The fat lady's voice got louder at the Japanese Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton coasted to a dominant victory from pole position, with the Mercedes of Bottas hanging on to second place and the Ferrari of Hamilton's closest title rival - Sebastian Vettel - finishing in sixth. Valtteri Bottas held off Verstappen to take second nearly 13 seconds behind Hamilton in a breathless 53-lap race at the fast-flowing Japanese circuit.
The Brit can win his fifth world title with a win at the United States Grand Prix next time out, if his Ferrari counterpart finishes third or lower. Hamilton screamed over team radio after his sixth win in the last seven races and fourth in a row.
"I definitely hadn't anticipated that Ferrari would tail off as they have".
That is the news from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, after the Sochi-Suzuka double header in which Finn Bottas was clearly playing the "number 2" role in support of runaway championship leader Lewis Hamilton. "And Austin is usually a good track for us so I can't wait to unleash this beast there", he added, pointing at his auto.
"I said to everyone, "I hope you guys all feel you're performing at your best, because we really are and you should take note of that and sit back for a second", said Hamilton. Ferrari's Vettel finishes in sixth place. I don't regret the move, obviously with that outcome you would do it differently because with hindsight it's always easy. Vettel was left wondering what might have been after a ruining an electric start with an ill-advised attempt to duck inside Verstappen at turn 13.
Verstappen, who finished third, had been handed the penalty for forcing Vettel's team mate Kimi Raikkonen off the track earlier in the race and would have dropped behind Vettel anyway at the pitstops. "I don't want to even think about him breaking a finger!" "That's probably the end of his championship". It's been quite a few races for Sebastian Vettel, too, but for different reasons. "I had the speed".
"But the gap was there, his battery was clipping [running out of ERS boost], I was boosting, I saved my battery, I had more speed, I would have made the corner, I was side by side and then he didn't give enough room and then we touched".
Force India's Sergio Perez was seventh ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean.
Esteban Ocon completed a double points finish for Force India in ninth while Carlos Sainz took the final point for Renault.