Formula 1

Max Verstappen..

Max Verstappen reveals why he couldn't pass Lewis Hamilton round Suzuka

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Lewis Hamilton is now within touching distance of his fourth Formula One Drivers' Championship.

The Mercedes driver took a huge step towards  the accolade round the S-bends of Suzuka with his fourth win on Japanese soil.

Claiming top spot on the podium saw him extend the championship lead to a monstrous 59 points as Sebastian Vettel retired with a second engine problem in as many weeks.

The German commanded the drivers' standings in the early grand prix of the season but retirement in Singapore, followed by a grid penalty in Malaysia and now another 0 pointer looks to have ended proceedings.

However, championship aside, Hamilton was nearly forced to play second fiddle to Max Verstappen for the second consecutive race.

The Red Bull driver - who has been linked with a Mercedes switch - nearly replicated his Sepang antics after finishing just 1.2 seconds behind Hamilton.

Hamilton was certainly worried, too. 

He explained: “For the first half of the race it went very well, under control, and then for the second half was a lot harder.

"The tyres, balance of the car, the traffic that we were getting a lot of the time.

F1 Grand Prix of Japan

“Then with the VSC, which I did a great job under, then the front tyres weren't working – I had massive understeer and all of a sudden he [Verstappen] was on me.

“Jeez he looked so big in my mirrors, but I’m really grateful the car stuck in and I didn't make any mistakes, so I'm really proud of that.”

Nevertheless, in the opinion of Verstappen, it simply wasn't as close as Hamilton and the final classification would suggest.

"I could see Lewis managing his tyres and, with traffic, it seemed difficult for him to follow other cars compared to me," Verstappen rebuffed.

"When you close up, you lose a lot of downforce. I couldn't really attack him, but I tried."

And when asked whether Fernando Alonso was to blame, he said: "It didn't help, but it was more last lap with Massa.

"But I don't think I could get past Lewis, I could close up. It was not ideal but it wouldn't have made a difference."

So, even when you remove the influence of traffic, Verstappen still believes Hamilton's true management and downforce issues were to blame.

F1 Grand Prix of Japan

For all his swashbuckling overtakes in the past, the 20-year-old was left waiting for a mistake that didn't happen from a driver all-but confirmed as the new world champion.

Do you Max Verstappen will be a world champion in the future? Have your say in the comments section below.

Max Verstappen
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