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Hamilton calls 59-point lead over Vettel in F1 title race ‘unbelievable’

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Lewis Hamilton called his 59-point advantage over Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship “unbelievable” after taking a big step towards a fourth title in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton entered the Suzuka weekend leading by 34 points, but was given the chance to stretch it out after Vettel was forced to retire early on due to an issue with his Ferrari engine.

Hamilton led the majority of the race at Suzuka en route to his eighth win of the season, fully capitalizing on his rival’s demise.

“The start was OK, although the initial getaway was not spectacularly good, I had a bit of wheel spin. But from then on I had a good start and it was pretty much under control from there,” Hamilton said.

“I was trying to manage the pace and the tires; it was a long way to go, it was the hottest the track had been all weekend, so that was really crucial.

“With the VSC towards the end, I lost a lot of temperatures in the tires and waking them up was not so easy.”

Hamilton was given a late scare when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was able to move to within a second at the front with two laps to go, but managed to hold on and cross the line 1.2 seconds clear.

“I got stuck behind traffic, I was losing so much time and Max’ car was so big in my mirror. It was very close for a couple laps, but I was able to keep it together,” Hamilton explained.

“It was not an easy walk in the park today, it was a win that I had to work very hard for. Great race by Max, I enjoyed racing him.”

Until four races ago, Hamilton had trailed Vettel in the drivers’ championship, with a dramatic change in fortunes putting him in a position to win the title at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas in two weeks’ time.

“It’s almost unbelievable to think we are where we are in the championship. I was excited to race Sebastian today, but he was obviously very unfortunate,” Hamilton said.

“It’s still a long way to go, there are still a hundred points. I’m just going to keep my head down and hopefully will continue to be in a form like this.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.