As if Lewis Hamilton hadn't had enough issues on the track this season, he suffered one of the worst starts of the season as he dropped six grid places right off the line at Suzuka.
The three-time world champion started second on the grid, behind teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg, and fell immediately to eighth as his car barely moved off the line and drivers behind were forced to take drastic action to evade him.
Hamilton's Mercedes was at a standstill as both Ferrari's and Red Bull's eased past him, effectively ending his realistic chances of beating out Rosberg for the win on the day. The Brit did make a spirited comeback and eventually finished third behind Rosberg and Max Verstappen.
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It looked like Hamilton could regain his second place at times but some fantastic defence from the Red Bull teenager held him off and he had to settle for third place, allowing Rosberg to extend his lead to 33 points with just four races to go.
The points earned by the Mercedes pair also secured the team's third consecutive constructors title.
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Hamiltonadmitted fault for his terrible start saying: "I made a mistake. Then working my way up from there was tricky, but I did the best I could...I just got some wheel-spin - I'm not really sure why."
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff responded: "The clutch obviously is not perfect we are giving to them. It's difficult to handle and we've tried to optimise that.
"Our first assessment is it didn't function well on the clutch release, but that is obviously an over-simplification. It is a complicated mechanism to deploy and that didn't function today."
Hamilton has struggled with his starts repeatedly this season, especially from the front row as he has only kept the lead after turn one twice from seven pole positions, not pretty reading for the defending world champion.
Heading in to the United States GP Hamilton faces an enormous task to overhaul his teammate now as even a win for him and a non finish for Rosberg would still see him trailing by eight points as the German seeks out his first world championship.
Can Lewis Hamilton still win the championship? Let us know in the comments section below!
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