Lewis Hamilton took a huge step towards a fourth Formula One championship on Sunday, winning the Japanese Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel's woes continued.
Hamilton enjoyed a dominant weekend at Suzuka and the Briton turned that into a 61st grand prix win, holding off Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
The Mercedes star had opened up a healthy lead amid struggles for Ferrari in Singapore and Malaysia, and he will take a 59-point advantage into the final four races of the season after converting his first Suzuka pole into victory.
Troubled by reliability issues in recent races, Vettel's bad luck continued as he was forced into retiring after just four laps due to mechanical problems.
The German appeared at risk of not starting as his car was worked on before the race, but the issues remained and he quickly fell from second before his retirement.
Verstappen produced a fine early move to get past the struggling Vettel and the Dutchman, coming off a win in Malaysia, held onto second as most drivers opted for one-stop strategies.
Daniel Ricciardo, Verstappen's team-mate, completed the podium.
MORE WOES FOR VETTEL
Vettel's season continued its recent downward spiral. What was expected to be a thrilling finale to the campaign is all but over with four races left after Vettel's latest mechanical woes.
The German crashed in Singapore, where Hamilton was victorious, and then started last in Malaysia due to mechanical issues, although he salvaged a fourth-place finish.
But the four-time champion's latest problems in Japan appear to have ended his title dreams.
Verstappen backed up his Malaysia win with another fine drive.
The 20-year-old put huge pressure on Hamilton, battling tyre vibrations, in the closing stages. It marked a third podium finish this season for Verstappen and ninth top-10 result, having retired from the seven other races.
SAINZ FAILS TO COMPLETE LAP
Carlos Sainz Jr was unable to complete a lap on what was his final Toro Rosso start as the Spaniard crashed out.
Sainz signed with Renault for next season but will make the move immediately, with Jolyon Palmer leaving with four races left.
Palmer managed 12th spot on his final start for Renault.
IN THE POINTS
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.211seconds
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) +9.679s
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +10.580s
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +32.622s
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +67.788s
7. Sergio Perez (Force India) +71.424s
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +88.953s
9. Romain Grosjean (Haas) +89.883s
10. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1lap
1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 306
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) – 247 (-59)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) – 234 (-72)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) – 192 (-114)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) – 148 (-158)
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – 111 (-195)
1. Mercedes – 540
2. Ferrari – 395 (-145)
3. Red Bull – 303 (-237)
4. Force India – 147 (-393)
5. Williams – 66 (-474)
6. Toro Rosso – 52 (-488)
Hamilton can seal the title at the United States Grand Prix in Austin on October 22. A win and Vettel finishing outside the top five would wrap up the championship.
15. Juli 2018
|I may have to dust my boots off! - Pele threatened by Mbappe exploits|
|WATCH: Mendy and Pogba dab with president Macron after World Cup win|
|Woods embracing ´different´ Carnoustie challenge ahead of Open return|
|Argentina dismiss Sampaoli after chaotic World Cup|
|France celebrates World Cup triumph|
|Djokovic made ´improvised Wimbledon trophies´ as a boy|
|Stone goes agonisingly close to 59 as Pepperell & Dantorp also make Open|
|Outcast Benzema delights in France win|
|Final a triumph in itself given Croatia´s off-field turmoil|
|Anderson laments Wimbledon final nerves|
|Deschamps joins elite club, Mbappe second to Pele - the best stats from the World Cup final|
|Belgium´s Courtois wins World Cup Golden Glove|
|Collarbone fracture confirmed for ´devastated´ Porte|
|World Cup final player ratings: Griezmann, Mbappe inspire France as Croatia fall short|
|World Cup winner Giroud ends tournament without shot on target|
|Modric wins World Cup Golden Ball|
|Mbappe wins World Cup Young Player award|
|Deschamps redeemed as France win World Cup final for the ages|
|France 4 Croatia 2: Twitter Report|
|Tomlin optimistic over Bell contract|
|Kane wins World Cup Golden Boot|
|Ajax keen on Blind deal - Van der Sar|
|France 4 Croatia 2: Pogba and Mbappe seal thrilling World Cup triumph|
|Anderson would have played another 21 hours to reach Wimbledon final|
|Djokovic delighted to crown ´comeback´ with Wimbledon glory|
|World Cup final interrupted by pitch invaders - Pussy Riot claim responsibility|
|Djokovic´s grass-court U-turn pays ultimate dividends with Wimbledon title|
|Mandzukic makes World Cup history with early own goal|
|Dominant Djokovic beats Anderson to regain Wimbledon title|
|Everybody said I´m done - Degenkolb revels in first Tour victory|
|´Big party´ for Marquez after Sachsenring success|
|Hazard enjoys Belgium´s welcome home|
|Ex-AC Milan president Berlusconi conflicted over Ronaldo to Juventus|
|Spain did not contact Martinez over head coach vacancy|
|Maybe the VAR was watching The Simpsons! - RSL coach Petke slams MLS officials|
|Cubs´ Darvish hopes to return by next weekend|
|France and Croatia name unchanged sides for World Cup final|
|Marquez maintains Sachsenring dominance|
|Courtois claims World Cup has boosted his value|
|Buffon beaten on difficult PSG debut|
|Vince called up for Headingley decider|
|Farah inspires Tigers win over Dragons, Warriors and Roosters triumph|
|Crash forces Porte out of Tour for second year running|
|Ronaldo considered Napoli move, says De Laurentiis|
|Mafi arrested for allegedly assaulting Rebels team-mate|
|Everybody is welcome - Croatia pitch for neutral support in World Cup final|
|West Ham seal club-record swoop for Felipe Anderson|
|Rooney applauds England for capturing fans´ imagination|
|Krajicek urges Anderson to go for broke in Wimbledon final|
|Wimbledon 2018: Djokovic v Anderson in Opta numbers|
|Kohli defends Dhoni after Lord´s boos|
|Wimbledon finalist Djokovic can win the next six majors, claims Krajicek|
|We´re ´blessed´ to watch Mbappe, says Kaka|
|Bogaerts hits walk-off grand slam to deliver Red Sox win over Blue Jays|
|Cardinals dismiss Matheny, name Shildt interim manager|
|Pacquiao knocks out Matthysse to win welterweight title|
|Didulica expects ´cagey´, tight World Cup final|
|MLS Review: Rooney impresses on debut, Galaxy leave it late|
|Truex dominates to win Quaker State 400 again|
|Kim in control at John Deere Classic|
|Braves place closer Vizcaino back on DL, manager concerned about injury|
|Long on Eagles having Wentz, Foles: It´s really a dream|
|Effenberg: I´d prefer Mandzukic over Neymar|
|Courtois open to Chelsea stay amid Madrid links|
|Rays´ Ramos won´t play All-Star Game due to hamstring injury|
|Gary Sanchez injury update: Yankees catcher on track to return after All-Star break|
|Windies crush Bangladesh again to seal series win|
|Klopp backs Lovren´s lofty ´best in the world´ claim|
|Root welcomes ´ruthless´ England display|
14. Juli 2018
|Martinez on target in impressive Inter debut|