[F1 2017 NEWS] RACE RECAP: JAPANESE GRAND PRIX

Japan’s world-famous Suzuka Circuit has produced some truly incredible moments in Formula 1, like Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost’s back-to-back collisions in 1989 and 1990, and Damon Hill’s rain-drenched win in 1994.

This year provided another thrilling slice, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton’s win - his fourth in Japan, and third at Suzuka – all but halting the title campaign for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who retired just when he needed victory most.

The Scuderia was rattled on the grid, with a spark plug issue threatening Vettel’s ability to even start the race.

At lights out, Hamilton immediately covered off Vettel to take the lead on the run to Turn 1, while Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen outdragged his teammate Daniel Ricciardo for third. Force India’s Esteban Ocon was fifth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Pérez. 

But Vettel’s race was about to unravel, with Verstappen overtaking him into the hairpin – Ocon, Ricciardo and Bottas getting past down the straight into the next lap. Before the safety car was deployed to recover the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, who had sped into the gravel at Turn 2.

Vettel retired on Lap 5 with a broken spark plug – while Hamilton up-front set the fastest lap, to pull out a 2-second gap on Verstappen by Lap 8, at which point Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson hit the barrier at Turn 9, Degner 2 – triggering the virtual safety car for two laps.

Racing restarted on Lap 11, and Ricciardo overtook Ocon for third down the straight – while Bottas passed the Frenchman on the following lap for fourth.

Verstappen, in second, tried the undercut on Lap 21, pitting for softs – but was covered off by Hamilton on the next lap, despite gaining 2-seconds.

On Lap 47, Williams’ Lance Stroll retired at Turn 5 after a car issue forced a front right puncture – bringing out the Virtual Safety Car again for 4 laps.

At the third restart on Lap 50, Hamilton complained of vibrations from his tyres – allowing Verstappen to close right up through traffic.

But the Brit used backmarkers, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Williams’ Felipe Massa, on the final lap to give him his 61st career win.

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As broadcast on  10/10/2017.