Another disaster for Ferrari leaves Vettel's title hopes in tatters
Sebastian Vettel managed just a handful of laps in today's Japanese Grand Prix, while championship rival Lewis Hamilton converted pole into victory.
The Ferrari driver was forced out of contention early on for the second time in three races, all but ending his hopes of a fifth world title.
The first sign that Seb had problems came on the grid when Ferrari mechanics swarmed around his car. It transpired that Vettel had a spark plug issue, but it seemed that the team had solved the problem before the start.
He began the race without any obvious issues, slotting in behind Hamilton but remaining ahead of Max Verstappen.
But the Red Bull driver passed the Ferrari during lap one and Seb was then swamped by Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo as lap two began. A safety car gave him brief respite, but when it came in Vettel lost yet more positions.
Soon he got the dreaded call from the pits: "Box Sebastian, box. We retire the car."
Out front Lewis seemed set for an easy win, but a late vibration left him looking vulnerable to Verstappen. Ultimately the Mercedes was lucky in traffic while the Red Bull wasn't, helping to secure victory for Hamilton.
That puts him 59 points clear of Vettel, all but ending the Ferrari man's championship hopes. Lewis can secure the title at the next round in Austin.
Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Kimi Raikkonen a lonely fifth. Next came the two Force Indias, two Haas cars, and the Williams of Felipe Massa. There was little in the way of action, though Kevin Magnussen did put a punchy move on Massa to seal his P8 finish.
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