Japanese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton on pole as title edges closer | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 06.10.2018
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Japanese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton on pole as title edges closer

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton leads another Mercedes 1-2 for the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday. The British driver has a 50 point lead over Sebastian Vettel, who starts in eighth after spinning off the wet course.

With rain on its way, Hamilton recorded a lap of 1 minute, 27.760 seconds to lead teammate Valtteri Bottas by 0.299 seconds. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was third.

Mercedes read conditions expertly, ensuring that both drivers recorded their best laps early in the third part of qualifying, before the rain increased, to secure their fifth consecutive one-two at Suzuka.

"The call we made was to go out in Q3 which is probably the most difficult call," said Hamilton. "You saw all of us fumbling and trying to figure out what to do - the team were spot on with it and it gave us an opportunity to grab this pole position."

Things didn't go quite so smoothly for Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel. The German's already-slim chances of denying Hamilton a fourth driver's title in the last five years and fifth overall now appear in tatters.

Vettel hit a wet patch and spun off the course, eventually finishing ninth before being raised to eighth after a grid penalty for Esteban Ocon.

"It's not the position we deserve to be in," Vettel said. "I think we had better speed than ninth but we start there and then see how it goes. Anything could happen tomorrow, tomorrow's a new day. Obviously it's not easy when you start further back but it's not impossible."

Hamilton, who claimed the 80th pole of his career, will be bidding for his fifth victory at Suzuka in Sunday's race.

"A big thank you to everyone back at the factory," he said. "I'm so proud to be on this journey with them. Never in a million years thought I'd get to 80."

With five races left in the season, including the Japanese GP on Sunday, Hamilton leads Vettel 306 to 256.

 mp/jh (AP, Reuters)

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