Hamilton takes giant step to F1 title

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Verstappen finished hot on the heels of Bottas, while his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo recovered from 15th to fourth.

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.

Hamilton's points lead has grown from 14 to 67 after taking four successive Grands Prix victories, while rival Sebastian Vettel has encountered setbacks.

Hamilton will fancy his chances of doing just that given his record at the U.S. Grand Prix, where he has won every race but one since 2012.

"I have imagined and I have dreamt about winning the title all year long", said Hamilton, who is in Tokyo on Monday to promote his Tommy Hilfiger clothing range.

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Hamilton now has 331 points to Vettel's 264, while Mercedes lead Ferrari in the constructors' standings with 538 points to 460 for the Italians.

If Hamilton finishes 7th though, even if Vettel does not score, the title fight will move to Mexico. Max Verstappen completed the podium as Vettel endured yet another miserable afternoon following his crash with the Red Bull driver in the early stages of Sunday's Suzuka race.

Nonetheless, Vettel said before leaving Suzuka: "I will not leave Ferrari".

Force India's Sergio Perez was seventh ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

The second Force India of Esteban Ocon came in ninth with Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr 10th.

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Vettel should probably consider himself lucky that he escaped further punishment as he could easily have been handed a time penalty at the very least for a risky move on Verstappen, similar to what the youngster received after momentarily going off track while being pursued by Kimi Raikkonen.

"Look at [the incident with] Kimi, he's [Verstappen] off the track and comes back and if Kimi just drives on they'd collide".

"But the gap was there, his battery was clipping [running out of ERS boost], I was boosting, I saved my battery, I had more speed, I would have made the corner, I was side by side and then he didn't give enough room and then we touched".

Red Bull boss Christian Horner put it even more bluntly when asked to assess Vettel's rush of blood.

"But they just lost a lot of performance, and then it's been obviously a little bit hard for them". "That's probably the end of his championship".

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