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F1 Debrief: Verstappen aids Hamilton's title bid, Alonso's fury

Welcome to the morning after the Japanese Grand Prix, where Lewis Hamilton dominated from start to finish from pole as Max Verstappen played pinball with the Ferraris on his way to third. Let’s look at the stories behind the headlines…

F1 Debrief: Verstappen aids Hamilton's title bid, Alonso's fury

Hamilton dominates again, closes on fifth title

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with the team and the champagne

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with the team and the champagne

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

Sunday’s race was a stroll for Hamilton, despite some early engine issues that proved to be nothing to worry about. He moved to the brink of the 2018 title by claiming victory as Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel clashed with Verstappen.

Hamilton's ninth win of the year and Vettel's sixth place at Suzuka, after spinning to the back, means Hamilton leads by 67 points with four grands prix remaining.

That means Hamilton only needs to outscore Vettel by eight points at the next race in the United States to clinch a fifth world championship.

Race Report:

Verstappen indignant over Ferrari clashes

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Sutton Images

Verstappen felt Vettel "drove into the side of my car" in their clash, which the Dutchman likened to their earlier collision in China.

Vettel challenged Verstappen for third down the inside of the Spoon left-hander after an early-race safety car restart, which resulted in a collision and sent the Ferrari driver spinning.

The incident was investigated by the stewards, with no further action taken, but Verstappen felt it was clear Vettel had been at fault.

"In that corner you cannot overtake," he said. "I even gave him space. But he understeered into my car."

However, Vettel said Verstappen was “completely to blame” for the incident.

Verstappen's run-in with Vettel was set up by a previous incident with the German's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, which dropped the Finn behind Vettel.

The Raikkonen clash had been triggered by Verstappen locking his right front on approach to the final chicane and missing the corner, skipping across the grass to return to the track.

Raikkonen tried to clear him round the outside of the second part of the chicane, only to be forced off by the rejoining Red Bull, which was subsequently assessed a five-second time penalty.

Raikkonen said: “He knew that I was there and he just drove into me and pushed me off the track.”

After the race, the FIA's Charlie Whiting said Verstappen “clearly deserved” his penalty.

Alonso slams stewards’ decisions

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33, runs off the track behind Lance Stroll, Williams FW41

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33, runs off the track behind Lance Stroll, Williams FW41

Photo by: Steven Tee / LAT Images

McLaren Fernando Alonso said the penalty he was handed in the Japanese Grand Prix shows "how bad Formula 1 is" with its race stewarding.

Alonso was given a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage after he was sent onto the grass by Lance Stroll's Williams as the duo braked for the final chicane early in the race.

The stewards also found Stroll guilty over the same incident, and also handed him a five-second penalty for the contact and for pushing the McLaren off track.

Alonso said he was baffled by his penalty and said it showed how inconsistent F1 penalties are, saying: “Even when the driver comes to apologise I think it's difficult to understand the decision but you know, this is how bad Formula 1 is.”

Leclerc bemused by no-action call after Magnussen clash

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18, Charles Leclerc, Sauber C37 and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-18, Charles Leclerc, Sauber C37 and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Sutton Images

Meantime, Charles Leclerc says he could not understand why Kevin Magnussen was not penalised for his "dangerous" move in their fight at Suzuka.

Magnussen's Haas was read-ended by the Sauber of Leclerc after the Dane suddenly moved to the right on the main straight when the Monegasque was attempting to pass. The incident resulted in a puncture for Magnussen, who later retired with a damaged car.

The race stewards investigated the incident but concluded no driver was predominantly to blame and therefore imposed no penalty.

"For me it's dangerous at this type of speed," said Leclerc.

Grosjean eighth despite fire

Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team in parc ferme

Romain Grosjean, Haas F1 Team in parc ferme

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Sutton Images

Fellow Frenchman Romain Grosjean completed the race without telemetry information following an early fire on his Haas F1 car.

Grosjean still managed to finish eighth at Suzuka, despite also suffering a handling problem that team principal Gunther Steiner said was related to part of the rear suspension "moving".

Steiner explained that Haas could not help Grosjean identify the problem when it struck because of the lack of data from the car.

“We don't know why it broke because in the beginning we had no telemetry,” he explained. “No tyre temperatures, nothing, because we had a fire because I think some oil came out and burnt all the wiring down.”

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