Mercedes' Hamilton secures pole position for Japanese GP

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Lewis Hamilton has called his lead in the drivers' championship "unbelievable" after his victory in the Japanese Grand Prix saw him open up a 59-point advantage. Vettel was on pole position in Singapore but crashed out on the opening lap in a race Hamilton went on to win, and then the German was limited to fourth place in Malaysia after missing qualifying due to a power unit issue.

"I don't honestly think there's anything wrong with the engine", said Hamilton.

The Red Bulls of Verstappen - who stunned Hamilton to win in Malaysia last week - and Daniel Ricciardo secured a double podium for the second successive race. Gaughan finished in 11th place - one spot ahead of Reed - but it wasn't enough to catch him in the playoffs.

But as attending the national anthem ceremony is mandatory, Vettel was investigated by the race stewards for a breach of the rules. Ferrari had detected a spark plug issue on the way to the grid and removed the engine cover from car No.5 in an attempt to rectify the problem before the start.

"One hundred points is a lot of points". Coulthard also races for the Penske team.

However, the blow to his already slimming title chances seemed serious, as Vettel ended on it not being a day to talk of positives, despite some apparent progress.

Campionship leader Hamilton shattered Michael Schumacher's lap record around Suzuka - set during Q2 in 2006 - by 1.365s to claim his 71st career pole and his first at the Japanese circuit.

Ferrari and Vettel's title campaign has literally collapsed in the last few races and F1 may well have into the last few races with the championship done and dusted.

Esteban Ocon edged Force India teammate Sergio Perez to finish seventh, while Williams driver Felipe Massa and McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso rounded out the top 10.

Bowman, who will replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. next year in the Monster Energy Cup Series, led 32 laps in the race delayed 5½ hours because of rain. It is about the team's whole performance, not just speed on the track, and the team has shown for many years that we have a very, very solid platform. "But you know, it's like that sometimes". I had a comfortable gap going into the pit stop and then I think Max did the undercut thing and gained a bit of time.

It was Hamilton's eighth win of the 2017 season, tightening his grip on the world championship. Kimi Raikkonen also battled back from a gearbox penalty to finish fifth, providing a good deal of the race's entertainment as he came through the field. "I was driving down the back straight at one point and I'm thinking, 'Jeez, the guy behind me is so much younger than me, I've got make sure I kind of man up and show my age'".