Vettel and Verstappen collide in Japan

The helmet of Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso

The helmet of Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso

In Italy he made an unnecessary first lap assault on Lewis Hamilton which saw the German spin out of contention, while today, even knowing that Max Verstappen had a 5s penalty, a similar lunge resulted in another spin for Sebastian Vettel, dropping him to last place in the process.

After cruising to a lights-to-flag victory in Japan, on a day when chief rival Sebastian Vettel was left to rue coming off worse in another on-track tussle, the Mercedes star now leads the German by 67 points in the championship race with just 100 still to play for. He was quick off the line and had passed the Toro Rosso's of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley by the time he was into the esses to take sixth and the Haas of Romain Grosjean fell swiftly afterwards. I saw a gap and went for it on the inside, he obviously tried to defend and I couldn't go anywhere, so we touched.

Despite the mistakes and a heavy points loss in both championships, Vettel said that seeing the team work was "inspirational" and claims the team doesn't have much to lose now with four races to go.

Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth for Red Bull after starting way back in 15th with Kimi Raikkonen fifth after Ferrari opted not to switch his position with Vettel for the sake of two extra points.

"I was obviously pushing to get past", he told Sky Sports F1, "but I wasn't desperate to get past". The scenario has been set up because Vettel finished sixth at Suzuka after a collision with Max Verstappen, and Hamilton says he was expecting a much tougher challenge from Ferrari and Vettel heading into the summer break. Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas completed a strong one-two for Mercedes. Verstappen was subsequently assessed a five-second time penalty.

Vettel's second half of the championship has shaken up his title aspirations.

"This is part of racing, don't get me wrong".

"He could have been a bit more careful".

Vettel, whose dreams of pipping Hamilton to five world titles now look all but over, had barely left the garage on the harder compound tyres when he informed Ferrari of the error over team radio.

Indeed, the move smelt of desperation, and it marked Vettel's second mistake of the weekend, after he ran off track in qualifying, and his seventh of an error-prone campaign.

The Raikkonen clash had been triggered by Verstappen locking his right front approaching the final chicane and missing the corner, skipping across the grass to return to the track. "It's not been going in our favour, which of course we need to understand why, if others did something better, then we need to know why".

"I think enough has been said".

"And he chose to go around the outside, he could have waited for me to understeer wide".

Maurizio Arrivabene was furious with his own team after Ferrari's bungled qualifying at Suzuka.

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