'FERRARI HAVE IMPLODED'
BRITISH PRESS BELIEVE FERRARI HAVE THROWN AWAY THE 2017 WORLD TITLES
Ferrari's have 'imploded' in recent races and gifted Mercedes an easy run at 2017's world titles, according to Monday's national newspapers.
The spark-plug failure that stopped Sebastian Vettel's race inside five laps at the Japanese GP has allowed Lewis Hamilton to open up a 59-point title lead with just 100 left to play for.
Ferrari's Suzuka failure comes on the back of engine problems in Malaysia and Vettel's dramatic retirement from pole at the start in Singapore, races at which Ferrari clearly had the fastest car.
And Fleet Street believe the Scuderia have thrown away their best title chance in years.
"Their car has been wonderfully quick all year, but they have imploded," wrote the Daily Mail's Jonathan McEvoy.
'Vettel has tumbled from seven points ahead going into Monza four races ago, to 59 behind. He has collected 12 of the last 75 on offer."
In The Daily Telegraph, Tom Cary described Sunday at Suzuka as Ferrari's "latest implosion", while The Times offered little sympathy for F1's most decorated team.
'Ferrari have only themselves to blame,' said Rebecca Clancy. 'They have one of the biggest budgets in the paddock, about £300 million, but still they cannot win the title, while their rivals with similarly deep pockets have thrived.'
Ferrari's wait for 17th Drivers' Championship now looks set to stretch into an 11th season and McEvoy suggests the patience of Sergio Marchionne, the company's president, may be tested.
'Over on the pit wall, Maurizio Arrivabene, the Ferrari team principal, swivelled on his stool with a doomed expression. No saddle in world motor racing is so precarious as the one sat upon by the boss holding the reins of the Prancing Horse,' he said.
'After this embarrassment, following the engine failures at Malaysia a week earlier, it may well be a case of arrivederci for Arrivabene.'
Vettel's refusal to turn on Ferrari in his brief round of interviews before leaving Suzuka was commended, although the Guardian's Giles Richards suspects the German may have already been privately resigned to his 2017 fate for several weeks.
'If Vettel, however, was dispirited, he was hiding it remarkably well,' said Richards.
'Perhaps already being in possession of four championships has allowed the German to put what must be a crushing disappointment into perspective. Or equally, perhaps he had felt the writing was on the wall from the moment he saw what had been an expected win disappear in a shower of sparks and broken carbon fibre under the floodlights of Marina Bay.'
With the possibility Hamilton can clinch the title as early as the next round in the USA, Richards added: 'Lewis Hamilton is now breathing some of the rarefied air at the very top of his profession.
'His win in the Japanese Grand Prix and the failure of his world championship rival Sebastian Vettel to finish have made Hamilton champion in waiting, ready to ascend to the position of the most successful British driver of all time.'
Provided Ferrari get a handle on their reliability problems in time for the next race, a race finish for Vettel in Austin is likely to mean Hamilton is made to wait until at least the following week in Mexico to close out the drivers' crown.
Mercedes have cautioned against celebrating a title win prematurely - and the Independent's David Tremayne reckons Ferrari could yet find the wheel of fortune suddenly turns in their favour.
'Vettel will take a little much-needed comfort from the knowledge that he is the only person who has beaten Hamilton at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin [in 2013 with Red Bull], which is the next stop on the rapidly diminishing calendar,' said Tremayne.
'The German made it clear after Sunday's race that Ferrari will never give up until the title is mathematically impossible, and as the Scuderia's recent run of terrible fortune has demonstrated, anything literally can happen in this game. Who's to say what lies ahead for Hamilton and Mercedes?'
However, Cary concluded: 'He can go as fast as he likes. You can stick a fork in this championship. We are done.'