Sebastian Vettel’s fading title hopes dashed after retirement from Japanese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, already 34 points behind Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton going into the race, had started alongside the Briton on the front row at Suzuka Circuit.

By: Reuters | Suzuka | Published: October 8, 2017 12:08 pm
Sebastian Vettel, Formula One, Japanese Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton Sebastian Vettel had arguably the fastest car in the previous two grand prix races in Singapore and Malaysia. (Source: AP)

Sebastian Vettel’s fading title hopes were dealt an almost fatal blow when the German retired from the Japanese Grand Prix with an engine issue on Sunday as his Ferrari suffered a major misfortune for a third race in a row.

Vettel, already 34 points behind Formula One championship-leading Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton going into the race, had started alongside the Briton on the front row at Suzuka Circuit.

However, there was a hint of the problems to come before the lights went out when mechanics changed a spark plug on Vettel’s car in the minutes before the race.

The 30-year-old plummeted down the order shortly after the start, clearly lacking power. He was called in by Ferrari to retire the car on the fourth of a scheduled 53 laps.

Vettel had arguably the fastest car in the previous two grands prix in Singapore and Malaysia but a first-lap crash and engine issue during qualifying left him with just a fourth-place finish from the latter as Hamilton extended his lead.

Hamilton currently leads with seven laps completed. If he wins, he will extend his advantage to 59 points with a maximum 100 points up for grabs from the final four races.

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