October 7, 2018 / 1:44 PM / 2 months ago

Motor racing: Team by team analysis of the Japanese Grand Prix

(Reuters) - Team by team analysis of Sunday’s Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka (listed in championship order):

Formula One F1 - Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan - October 7, 2018 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the race on the podium with second placed Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas and third placed Red Bull's Max Verstappen REUTERS/Issei Kato

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MERCEDES (Lewis Hamilton 1, Valtteri Bottas 2)

Hamilton’s sixth win in seven races and fourth in a row, ninth of the season and 71st of his career. Also his fifth in Japan and 50th with Mercedes. He led every lap from pole but was denied the fastest lap by Vettel. Hamilton is 67 points clear and potentially one race from his fifth title. Bottas anchored Mercedes’ second successive one-two, his seventh second of the season. Mercedes are 78 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors’ standings after their fifth win in a row in Japan.

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FERRARI (Kimi Raikkonen 5, Sebastian Vettel 6)

Both Ferrari drivers clashed with Verstappen early on, Vettel coming off worst. The German went from eighth on the grid spun down to 19th and back up to sixth. Raikkonen was too far ahead of Vettel at the finish for Ferrari to order him to move over for the title contender. Vettel set the fastest lap towards the end.

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RED BULL (Max Verstappen 3, Daniel Ricciardo 4)

Verstappen started and finished third, despite a five-second penalty for running wide and then pushing Raikkonen off. Without the penalty he might have had a chance of second. Ricciardo started 15th after engine problems in qualifying but came through the field strongly.

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RENAULT (Carlos Sainz 10, Nico Hulkenberg retired)

Sainz started 13th and clinched the point with three laps remaining after a long first stint. Hulkenberg retired on lap 37 with “a rear end issue”. Renault paid the price for poor qualifying pace.

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HAAS (Romain Grosjean 8, Kevin Magnussen retired)

Haas closed the gap on Renault to eight points in the battle for fourth. Magnussen retired after a left-rear puncture, suffered in a second lap clash with Sauber’s Leclerc, left the car too damaged to continue. Grosjean started fifth and took his season’s tally to 31 points, the most he has scored for Haas in three seasons with the U.S.-owned team.

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MCLAREN (Fernando Alonso 14, Stoffel Vandoorne 15)

Alonso made it as high as 12th before collecting a five-second penalty after an incident with Williams’ Stroll.

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FORCE INDIA (Sergio Perez 7, Esteban Ocon 9)

Another double points haul allowed Force India to close the gap to McLaren to 15 points. Perez said seventh was the best he could have hoped for realistically. Ocon started after a three-place grid drop to 11th for a red flag infringement in practice.

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TORO ROSSO (Pierre Gasly 11, Brendon Hartley 13)

Disappointment for the only Honda-powered team after both drivers qualified strongly in the top 10. Gasly lost a point to Sainz in the closing laps as he struggled with the blistering soft tyres.

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SAUBER (Marcus Ericsson 12, Charles Leclerc retired)

Future Ferrari driver Leclerc had to pit for a new front wing after his early clash with Magnussen. He retired on lap 39 with a mechanical problem, after having also been driven into by his team mate, that triggered a virtual safety car.

Formula One F1 - Japanese Grand Prix - Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan - October 7, 2018 Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton during the race REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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WILLIAMS (Sergey Sirotkin 16, Lance Stroll 17)

Stroll received a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Alonso at turn 16. The Canadian also flat-spotted a tyre in what was supposed to be a long second stint after pitting on lap 14. He pitted again on lap 39.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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