Vettel and Verstappen collide in Japan

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton drives during the second practice session of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka

Lewis Hamilton has one hand, three fingers and a thumb on the world championship after romping to victory in Japan as his rival Sebastian Vettel finished a lowly sixth following a calamitous collision.

"I definitely hadn't anticipated that they would tail off as they have".

Austin's Circuit of the Americas was the scene of Hamilton's coronation when he beat Nico Rosberg to the 2015 world title, his third, and the Englishman will undoubtedly start as favourite to at least win the race. "It is a great one-two for Mercedes".

"I can't wait to unleash this beast in Austin", he added, pointing at his auto.

Verstappen went on to finish third regardless, and when told by team principal Christian Horner after the race that he would not be "too popular with Ferrari and the Italians", he jovially replied: "That's not my problem, they were too aggressive". We had circumstances during the race that they (Red Bull) impede us to achieve the podium.

Vettel was left wondering what might have been after a ruining an electric start with an ill-advised attempt to duck inside Verstappen at turn 13. By that time the rest of the top ten had clocked times on slick tyres in the dry, putting the pressure on Vettel who then made a mistake at Spoon corner. Even Dr. Helmut Marko of Red Bull admitted that Vettel lost the championship because of his own blunders. "That's probably the end of his championship". The gap was there, but as soon as he saw me, he defended, but I had the inside.

"I had the speed".

After the race, Vettel was quick to slam Verstappen for the incident claiming the Dutchman "tries to push when he shouldn't" and "didn't give enough room".

Daniel Ricciardo recovered from 15th to fourth, while Kimi Raikkonen was fifth on a desperately torrid afternoon for Ferrari.

Esteban Ocon completed a double points finish for Force India in ninth while Carlos Sainz took the final point for Renault.

The German recovered to finish sixth after spinning to the back of the field when he collided with Red Bull's Max Verstappen trying an ambitious move for third place into the hard Spoon Curve.

Vettel, who was back to 11th by lap 24 of 53, is 50 points behind Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton with just four races remaining after Sunday.

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"I think it's correct that maybe we've been on the wrong side a couple of times but I don't think there was an terrible big gap or an very bad lot to get wrong".

"The gap was there, I had the inside. I do not feel like pointing my fingers at someone in particular, but I'm very disappointed".

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

"So I don't know why I got a penalty".

"He could have been a bit more careful". Vettel was pressured into trying to make something from his lowly grid slot and his eagerness led to another misjudgement that cost him dearly. "I don't think so".

But although Vettel's title hopes all but vanished at Suzuka, he stole the fastest lap from Hamilton on the penultimate tour denying him the slam that would have taken him only behind Jim Clark's eight on the all-time list.

"I don't regret the move". "Obviously with that outcome you would do it differently".

He was then fourth after Verstappen ran off the road at the chicane, and in rejoining the track, bumped Raikkonen on to the grass.

"He ran wide and went off the track and I just went on the outside at the next corner, leaving him space", growled the Finn, who finished fifth. "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".

Verstappen though was unrepentant and called his penalty "stupid".

Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene said the podium had been within the team's grasp.

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