Japanese GP Q3 tactics shows Mercedes is best team - Hamilton

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Ferrari got their tyre choice all wrong in the final qualifying session of the Japanese Grand Prix so Vettel will have to start the race from ninth of the grid.

In the closing stages of the race, Verstappen did his best to snap at the heels of Valtteri Bottas, although he knew that overhauling the Mercedes driver would be a challenge.

Hamilton, who claimed the 80th pole of his career, will be bidding for his fifth Japanese Grand Prix victory in Sunday's race.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, the Briton's closest rival, finished only sixth after an early collision with Red Bull's Max Verstappen left the German fighting back from 19th place in a damaged vehicle. Now it is a matter of just when Hamilton closes it out and equals Juan Manuel Fangio's five F1 titles. I think the whole weekend's been very strong from the team, it's a great 1-2 from Mercedes, it a true showing of the great strength in depth we have as a team.

Having quickly progressed from eighth on the grid following his poor qualifying, Vettel was attacking Verstappen for third at Spoon corner on the first lap after an early safety auto at Suzuka when they tangled and the Ferrari spun.

Early on in the 53-lap race, Verstappen missed his entry into the chicane and regained the track alongside Kimi Raikkonen, pushing the Finn off the circuit. Max Verstappen for one doesn't feel ike there's too much competition for the title now. He tried to go up the inside of Verstappen at Spoon and the two clipped one another.

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The Dutchman also pointed to his move on Vettel in China earlier this year, which caused both cars to spin and led to a 10-second penalty for Verstappen. The size of the gap between the top two teams and the speed in which it has been opened up over the last three races is still hard to comprehend, but underlines just how quickly Ferrari's season has unravelled.

Verstappen managed to continue without losing a position to Raikkonen but Vettel dropped to the back - the stewards looked into the clash but took no further action. It was the decisive moment of the race.

Kevin Magnussen's Haas picked up a puncture after he moved to the right down the start-finish straight defending from Charles Leclerc and was rear-ended by the Sauber. While Hamilton was in control out front the German driver had made it to 15by lap 14. He was putting in some of the fastest laps and on lap 35 was in 6 but a full 40 seconds behind his teammate in fifth. "We're all racing, the race is long".

Wolff expressed sympathy towards Ferrari's plight, commenting: "I can't really judge [others] because I am not in any other team, but what we try to establish is a safe environment, which is easier said than done".

The Force India's of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon were in seventh and ninth with Romain Grosjean's Haas in eighth and the Renault of Carlos Sanz in tenth.