Hamilton won the downhill gallop to the opening bend, with Bottas slotting in behind, and Verstappen holding off Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari.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. 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.
With rain threatening, Hamilton clocked a lap of 1 minute, 27.760 seconds to edge teammate Valtteri Bottas by 0.299 seconds.
Hamilton's win means he only has to beat Vettel by eight points to win the championship. Even Dr. Helmut Marko of Red Bull admitted that Vettel lost the championship because of his own blunders.
"I have seen that he has said he wishes he had Michael Schumacher available to ask for advice, and I can understand why".
Sebastian Vettel has refused to criticise Ferrari for its tyre gamble in qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix, saying it had the potential to create a "miracle" result for the team.
However, Verstappen defended, the pair touched and Vettel spun off the track. What we have done this season already feels like one of the highs, but I don't want to stop here'.
"We've gone from strength to strength as a team this year".
Vettel tried to overtake Red Bull ace Verstappen at Spoon corner in a bid to move up to third.
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"The team have done an unbelievable job this weekend, and the call that we made for Q3 was probably the most hard", said the Briton, joined by Bottas on the front row after the Finn completed a second successive Mercedes front row lockout. The stewards investigated the incident, but tellingly took no action.
"Austin is generally a good track for us and I can't wait to unleash this beast there", said Hamilton after leading every lap from pole position.
"I had some blistering in the rears, anyway the job was for me to get to the finish line in P2." .
Max Verstappen managed to get on the podium despite a time penalty for contact with Kimi Raikkonen, and then the incident with Vettel - both of which caused him very little concern.
Esteban Ocon completed a double points finish for Force India in ninth while Carlos Sainz took the final point for Renault. Vettel has always been known to handle pressure well, but the latest string of errors from the German proves otherwise.
One once 50 point gap has now increased to 67 after Vettel made an ambitious pass on Verstappen on Lap 10 at the Spoon.
"I don't think there was anything wrong with trying". The Ferrari was mostly alongside entering the corner, only for the two to collide.