The Mercedes juggernaut was back to its imperious best at Suzuka, as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas sealed a one-two for the Silver Arrows as Ferrari’s title challenge further declined.

While Hamilton led all three practice sessions, secured an 80th career pole and romped to a comfortable win, Sebastian Vettel’s weekend was one of strategic and driver errors.

In qualifying, Ferrari misread track conditions at the start of the all-important Q3 session. Sending both Vettel and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen onto the circuit with the intermediate tyres fitted, the pair returned to the pits after their outlaps to switch to the slicks that were the choice of the other eight Q3 runners.

Under pressure to deliver a lap and make up for lost time, Vettel suffered a snap of oversteer after touching the outside kerb at Spoon Curve. Running off track on his fastest lap of the session, Vettel ended up ninth in qualifying.

The situation further deteriorated in the race when at the same corner, Vettel opted for an ambitious move on the inside of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and when the door was abruptly closed, Vettel was pitched into a spin and fell to the back of the field.

Finishing in sixth, Vettel now enters the final four rounds of the 2018 season with his title hopes all but extinguished. Hamilton leads by 67 points and can claim title number five when the paddock reconvenes in the USA in two weeks time.

Here are our DRIVER RATINGS for the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix.

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