Formula 1

Martin Brundle..

Martin Brundle's harsh assessment of Vettel and Ferrari after Japanese GP

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Lewis Hamilton practically put the Drivers' Championship to bed when he claimed victory round Suzuka this weekend.

The Mercedes driver is closing in on his fourth world title and despite facing close competition from Sebastian Vettel in the early months of the season, Hamilton now commands a massive 59 point lead.

Credit is certainly due for the Brit with Mercedes producing one of their weaker, albeit still enviable, models in recent years but the misfortune of Vettel has certainly played its part.

The German suffered engine failure during the Singapore GP before having to start at the back of the grid in Sepang. He remarkably clawed his way back up to P4 yet became embroiled in controversy for a crash with Lance Stroll after the chequered flag.

Engine problems struck again at Suzuka with Vettel being forced to retire, essentially kissing goodbye to his championship hopes in the process.

A win next time out at the United States Grand Prix and a finish of fourth or lower from Vettel would be enough to finish proceedings.

Vettel also suffered the ignominy of being reprimanded by the race stewards for missing the pre-race anthem which drivers are obliged to attend.

It certainly didn't do any favours for the 30-year-old who already came in for criticism from Sky Sports' Martin Brundle for hitching a ride on a Sauber, which later sped to 80kph, in Malaysia.

And the ex-Williams driver had another round of criticism for Ferrari and Vettel this weekend.

Brundle spoke during Sky Sports' coverage and, at first, passed on his sympathies: "It does seem tough, he's up for the world championship and his car has an issue on the grid."

Nevertheless, he was keen to cite Vettel's mistake of not informing the pits of his reliability issues before the race.

"He probably needs to give his team feedback on exactly what was going on during the formation lap. It's just a bit silly, isn't it?" 

Not just silly, Martin, but absolutely disastrous in Vettel's quest to become the first Ferrari driver since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 to collect the Drivers' Championship.

Yet when you consider the very nature of the demise and the petty mechanical issues responsible, perhaps 'silly' really is the word.

Hamilton won't exactly be complaining, though - put the champagne on ice for Austin.

Who do you think is to blame for Vettel's decline this season? Have your say in the comments section below.

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