Lewis Hamilton on the brink of 5th World title after Japan win

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Dreaming: That's five career win in Japan for Hamilton, but he's thinking of another fifth - the world title, which could come at the next race

Lewis Hamilton moved to the brink of a fifth world championship with a lights-to-flag Japanese Grand Prix victory.

Mercedes’ Hamilton was dominant as title rival Sebastian Vettel ran into trouble attempting to gain ground from eighth place on the grid.

Vettel span to the back after colliding with Max Verstappen when trying a move for third place at the difficult Spoon Curve – but recovered to finish sixth.

The result means Ferrari’s Vettel is 67 points behind Hamilton.

The Briton will win the title at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, in two weeks’ time if Mercedes finish one-two for the third successive race.

All action behind Hamilton

It was a soporific race at the front, Hamilton so in control on his way to his sixth win in seven races that he at one point asked his team if they were still there, so little did they need to talk to him.

But behind him, there was action aplenty, much of it focused on Vettel.

Vettel knew he had to make up ground quickly if he was to have any hope of stopping Hamilton’s apparently unstoppable march to the title which for a long time looked as if it could be the Ferrari drivers.

And he drove well in the early laps. He was up to sixth by the third corner, passing both Toro Rosso, then fifth when he passed Romain Grosjean’s Haas into Spoon.

Vettel was then promoted to fourth at the end of the first lap when Verstappen locked his front wheel of his Red Bull going into the hairpin, ran wide and pushed Kimi Raikkonen off when rejoining the track, allowing Vettel to slip past his team-mate.

There was a short safety-car intervention to clear up debris left by a collision between Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and Charles Leclerc’s Sauber and bodywork strewn around the lap by the Dane as he returned to the pits with a puncture.

After the restart, Vettel was behind Verstappen and he saw an opportunity to pass into Spoon when the Red Bull slowed approaching the corner as the engine went into energy harvesting mode.

Vettel dived for the inside, Verstappen half defended but left space. The Ferrari was mostly alongside entering the corner, only for the two to collide.

Verstappen continued without losing much time but Vettel spun to the back of the field and was now consigned to a long afternoon fighting back.

The pace advantage of the Ferrari meant he easily climbed back up to sixth by half-distance but that was as far as he could get – and Ferrari declined to order Raikkonen in fifth to slow to let his team-mate by, to gain a couple of extra points.

What’s next?

From sublime Suzuka, to amazing Austin. The US Grand Prix is one of the best races of the year – a great track just outside a wonderful city. And Hamilton has pretty much ruled it since its debut on the calendar in 2012. Can he tie up the title in a country which he calls home for at least part of the year? He’s going to do it soon.

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