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Hamilton aiming to move closer to title at Japanese GP

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Lewis Hamilton can take a major step toward a fifth Formula One title at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, a race the Mercedes driver has dominated in recent years.

After winning last week’s Russian Grand Prix, Hamilton leads Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 50 points with five races left.

Hamilton has won three of the last four races at Suzuka with the only other win going to Hamilton’s former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in 2016. He heads into Sunday’s race having won five of the last six races.

“Lewis is hungry, focused and completely determined to succeed,” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said. “It’s been great to see the power he has brought to this championship, and how he has taken it to the next level.”

Hamilton’s win in Sochi was overshadowed by the decision to have teammate Valtteri Bottas pull over to let Hamilton pass. Bottas started from pole and was in position for his first win of 2018 when the decision was made by the team.

Wolff insisted ahead of the Japanese GP that the team orders tactic was justified.

“The battle with Ferrari remains extremely close, as was underlined by Sebastian’s pace on Sunday and the pressure he put us under,” Wolff said. “In the end, we left Sochi with a bigger lead. But we know that doesn’t mean anything because our fight with Ferrari is far from being over.”

Even if Vettel wins all five remaining races, he’s not guaranteed to beat Hamilton.

But Vettel, who has had his own success at Suzuka – winning four times between 2009 and 2013 – wasn’t about to concede the championship.

“We need to keep pushing and try,” the Ferrari driver said. “Who knows what will happen in the next races.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will be looking to follow up on his impressive showing in Russia.

On his 21st birthday, Verstappen started 19th but charged through the field to finish fifth.

It was another dramatic drive from Verstappen, who over four seasons has firmly established himself as F1’s most aggressive and exciting racer, but has never had a car capable of a true title challenge.

Verstappen has fond memories of the Suzuka circuit, having made his F1 debut here in by taking part in the first free practice at the 2014 Japanese GP.

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Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”