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Mercedes flex muscles in Japan to leave rivals in the rear-view mirror

Ferrari were left to rue shambolic management of their drivers after Mercedes’ near-perfect grand prix showing at Suzuka

Sealing their sixth consecutive constructors’ championship and ensuring they will secure a record sixth constructors’ and drivers’ double had an almost inevitable air after Mercedes’ strong start to the season. Having clinched it in Japan, their inexorable march should not detract from a remarkable achievement. It stretches back to the groundwork laid by Ross Brawn and the structures he created back in 2010. Three years of hard work and development ensued and what has emerged since has been outstanding. The team has come through on top after two major regulation changes, a feat never achieved before. After 2014 they were untouchable and in 2017, while the fight intensified, they remained on top. Nor should it be assumed that their success is simply a virtue of spending. In recent times both Toyota and Honda have proved that money alone guarantees nothing. A tighter battle at the front would be more than welcome and long overdue but it means others stepping up to match a Mercedes team showing no sign of weakness.

Yeah, going through 130R is cool. But how about one-handed....?

Nicely done @Charles_Leclerc #JapaneseGP #F1

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Valtteri Bottas storms to win in Japan as Mercedes take constructors’ title

• Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel holds off Lewis Hamilton for second
• Bottas now only man who can catch Hamilton for drivers’ title

Valtteri Bottas won the Japanese Grand Prix, taking a controlled victory from Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in second. With the Finn’s Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in third it ensures the team secured the constructors’ championship. Red Bull’s Alexander Albon was in fourth, with Carlos Sainz in fifth for McLaren and Charles Leclerc in sixth.

Bottas’s win has just kept his championship hopes alive, although Hamilton is still on course to take his sixth title. The British driver leads the Finn by 64 points and will take the championship if he is 78 in front after the Mexican Grand Prix.

Related: Japanese Grand Prix: Formula One 2019 – Bottas wins, Mercedes secure constructors' championship - live!

Related: Charles Leclerc brings winds of change to Ferrari in move on No 1 spot

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Hagibis may wreak havoc in Suzuka but nothing can stop Mercedes | Giles Richards

With a super typhoon threatening to mess with the Japanese Grand Prix it will only delay the coronation of the Silver Arrows and Lewis Hamilton

The spectre of super Typhoon Hagibis lurks over this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix. Whether the storm hits Suzuka is subject to the vagaries of an “explosive” weather system. It may yet affect the timetable and even threaten the race itself but regardless of its impact, what Hagibis cannot do is prevent Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ inexorable march into the record books.

The scale of the super typhoon and its growth was illustrated colourfully by meteorologist Robert Speta in the Japan Times on Wednesday. He described its intensification as if: “You had a fire and instead of throwing gasoline on it to make it bigger you also grabbed some lighter fluid, a bit of oil and a couple of aerosol cans for good measure.”

Related: Beware the enemy within: Leclerc and Vettel continue a timeless F1 tradition | Richard Williams

Related: Ferrari create 'a war' while F1 continues to meddle with the rules | Giles Richards

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Beware the enemy within: Leclerc and Vettel continue a timeless F1 tradition | Richard Williams

A battle for supremacy between teammates is troubling Ferrari after the meltdown in Sochi and all eyes will be on Suzuka this weekend to see if it can be rectified

If there was ever a doubt that a racing driver’s first priority is to beat his teammate, it was dispelled one March afternoon at Melbourne’s Albert Park. The 1996 Australian Grand Prix was half done when Jacques Villeneuve came out of the pits just behind the race leader, Damon Hill.

“There he is,” said the voice on Villeneuve’s radio. “Go and get him!”

Related: The knocks keep coming at Ferrari but Charles Leclerc is learning fast | Giles Richards

Related: Ferrari create 'a war' while F1 continues to meddle with the rules | Giles Richards

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Ferrari create 'a war' while F1 continues to meddle with the rules | Giles Richards

The Scuderia messed up their driver strategy in Sochi and the authorities’ reverse grid plans have angered Lewis Hamilton

Sebastian Vettel may have copped the attention and flak for refusing to obey team orders but at its heart this was a problem Ferrari created and failed to deal with well. Their attempt to micro-manage the start in the form of an agreement that Charles Leclerc would switch back to the lead if he gave Vettel a slipstream was unnecessarily complex. Nor did it allow for what happened when Vettel made a superb start and then showed great pace. Ferrari, however, were stuck with their plan and immediately tried to implement it. It was too rigid a reaction when they could have let it play out longer and swap them later in the race, as they ultimately did. With both championships gone, what is extraordinary is that they are still trying to run their men to a script rather than letting them race. Vettel will doubtless believe he was right to refuse to slow down and Leclerc that the German went back on an agreement – a recipe for disharmony but their team principal, Mattia Binotto, chose to look on the bright side. “I still believe it’s a luxury,” he said. “We have got two fantastic drivers, therefore that’s where I’m starting from.” Corriere dello Sport was perhaps closer to the truth with their headline: “Ferrari, this is war”

Related: Lewis Hamilton wins Russia F1 GP as Vettel ignores orders before retiring

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F1: Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc react to Ferrari disobedience – video

Lewis Hamilton managed to take advantage of a mishap from Ferrari before winning the Russian F1 Grand Prix in Sochi. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel repeatedly ignored orders to let his teammate past after taking the lead early on in the race, with the strategy then costing teammate Charles Leclerc second place. ‘We had agreed before the race’ admitted Leclerc. This is not the first time Vettel has disobeyed team orders. In Malaysia in 2013, he passed Red Bull teammate Mark Webber when the agreement was to hold station in a one-two. Vettel ignored the order and went on to win the race

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Lewis Hamilton wins Russian F1 Grand Prix in Mercedes one-two finish

• Englishman takes advantage of Ferrari meltdown in Sochi
• Hamilton now leads teammate Valtteri Bottas by 73 points

Lewis Hamilton won the Russian Grand Prix taking victory against the odds as Ferrari fell to internecine strife and mechanical failure. Valtteri Bottas was in second, with Charles Leclerc third. Max Verstappen finished in fourth place having started from ninth after a five-place grid penalty. Carlos Sainz impressed again with fifth for McLaren. Sebastian Vettel, having disobeyed team orders, was forced to retire mid-race.

Hamilton executed perfectly once he had taken the lead, after Mercedes’ decision to start the race on the medium tyres paid off. Ferrari, who had the quicker car, face an awkward debrief as Vettel repeatedly ignored orders to let his teammate past after taking the lead early in the race and their strategy then cost Leclerc second.

Related: Lewis Hamilton wins Russian Grand Prix: F1 – live!

Related: Mercedes F1 team sack four over racist bullying of Muslim colleague

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Mercedes F1 team sack four over racist bullying of Muslim colleague

• Quartet dismissed from Brackley HQ and three disciplined

• ‘We condemn this behaviour in the strongest terms’

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have sacked four of their staff members and disciplined three more for racist bullying. The team launched an inquiry into racism at their Northamptonshire headquarters in July and concluded that the four men had breached their equality policy. They were dismissed on 2 August and their final appeal was held last week.

The Sun newspaper reported on Saturday that the abuse at the Brackley site included a member of staff allegedly being referred to as a “Muslim terrorist fuck”. During Ramadan the sacked workers, believed to be from the IT department, were reported as putting up a poll on which they signed and dated guesses of when their co-worker would break his fast.

Related: Sochi will test Ferrari revival but Charles Leclerc offers hopeful signs | Giles Richards

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Sochi will test Ferrari revival but Charles Leclerc offers hopeful signs | Giles Richards

Victories at Monza and Marina Bay have raised the Scuderia’s spirits but the Russian Grand Prix offers a fresh challenge

What has become a gruelling battle of endurance for Ferrari this season may just be approaching the sprint finish they desperately desire. Defeated by Mercedes at the majority of meetings, they have staunchly battled their way to the shores of the Black Sea for the Russian Grand Prix. Here their efforts may finally be rewarded. Better still, if they are, Formula One has reason for optimism of a proper fight next year.

The Scuderia have struggled with grip and balance into corners. Their engine is the best of the field but it has not been enough to counter a Mercedes that has been fearsomely strong through the turns. Mercedes have 10 wins from 15 races and for Ferrari the championship has gone. Lewis Hamilton leads by 65 points from his Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and Ferrari trail the Silver Arrows by 133 points.

Related: Charles Leclerc tells himself to shut up after angry reaction in Singapore

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Charles Leclerc tells himself to shut up after angry reaction in Singapore

• Ferrari driver was angry his team favoured Sebastian Vettel
• ‘I need to control myself more instead of speaking on radio’

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has said he needs to “shut up” over the radio, after he reacted angrily to his team during the Singapore Grand Prix. Speaking before this weekend’s race in Russia, the 21-year-old admitted his obsession with victory had overcome his control at Marina Bay. Ferrari have won the last three races and Lewis Hamilton warned in Sochi they hold the advantage as the season enters its final third.

Leclerc won at Spa and Monza and was leading in Singapore when Ferrari’s pit strategy helped enable his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, to take the lead and ultimately win. Leclerc was repeatedly vocal in his frustration on track, which he conceded was wrong.

Related: Sebastian Vettel wins F1 Singapore Grand Prix in Ferrari one-two

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Ferrari might have cracked it but F1 gimmicks get short shrift | Giles Richards

The Singapore Grand Prix was a banner race for the Scuderia but Mercedes have lessons to learn before the next race

The Scuderia’s one-two in Singapore suggested they may finally have brought the SF90 up to speed. Struggling through slow corners all season, the car at Marina Bay, with a swatch of upgrades, had the grip on turn-in and balance that allowed Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel really to attack the corners. Leclerc’s qualifying lap was a stunning piece of driving but he was able to do it because the car was where he wanted it. Though they looked resurgent, chicken counting is premature. As Lewis Hamilton pointed out, you do not find 30 points of downforce from nowhere. The car was once more in its window but it clearly works well on the C5 compound of tyre – the softest rubber Pirelli can offer. It was last used in Canada where Vettel also found the sweet spot. They have without doubt made a major improvement but performances in Sochi and Suzuka will prove just how far they have come. If Ferrari do maintain this form, they will be at the front of the field.

Related: Lewis Hamilton admits that Ferrari hold advantage on the track

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Lewis Hamilton admits that Ferrari hold advantage in world championship

• Mercedes acknowledges it made mistake in strategy
• Hamilton still 65 points clear at the top

Lewis Hamilton has warned that he expects Ferrari to have the advantage in forthcoming races after they took a one-two victory at the Singapore Grand Prix. Hamilton finished fourth at Marina Bay, with Sebastian Vettel winning in front of his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc. The British driver suffered from the wrong strategy call by his Mercedes team but nonetheless acknowledged that Ferrari had made great steps forward in pace.

Vettel won from third on the grid, passing Leclerc with an undercut through the pitstops. Hamilton, in second place, wanted to follow the undercut strategy but Mercedes instead left him out to go long. On worn tyres it cost him time and track position and with overtaking almost impossible at Singapore in similarly matched cars, once he had lost his place he was unable to come back.

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