'I love this track': Hamilton claims 50th Mercedes win
MERCEDES Lewis Hamilton has cruised to victory at the Japanese Grand Prix to take another major step towards his fifth Formula One world title.
Hamilton was helped by a rash overtaking move by Ferrari title rival Sebastian Vettel, who collided with Max Verstappen while trying to overtake the Dutch driver.
The accident on the eighth lap, after Vettel had moved from eighth on the grid to fourth, spun the Ferrari driver off the track, putting him back to 19th, before he eventually finished sixth.
Hamilton was untroubled from pole position and took the chequered flag at the end of the 53 laps on the Suzuka circuit ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.
It is a second consecutive Japanese GP for the 33-year-old Briton, who now has a lead of 67 points over Vettel with four races of the season remaining.
To win his fifth title the Briton would have to win with Vettel finishing no higher than third.
"I loved it, I'm very happy the whole weekend has been so strong for the whole team a true showing of the depth we have," Hamilton said after the race.
"This is the best track in the world I don't know why they don't make them like this anymore. It was great fun. The happiness I have is as high as always. We have worked so hard to create this beast and I'm so grateful to be able to do what I do.
"I take it one step at a time, but each week you have appositive weekend, you go to the next one you don't know how you will fare. I think we have gone from strength to strength. I can wait to unleash in Austin. "
It was an impressive race for Australia's Daniel Ricciardo who drove from 15th on the grid to finish fourth behind his teammate Max Verstappen who could have won the race had it not been for a five-second penalty.
Early in the race he made contact with Kimi Raikkonen and was deemed to have driven dangerously when re-entering the track.
Verstappen was less than impressed with the sanction, turning the airwaves blue when Christian Horner delivered the news.
"What the f*** honestly, he could have waited for me to come back," he said on lap six.
He was no less irate after the race.
"I braked to latte into the chicane and I think I did it in a safe way but Kimi chose the wrong line," he said. "We touched a little bit, I think it's ridiculous the five seconds but anyway.
"The touch with Sebastian I think in that corner you can't over take and I gave him space."