Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Sports

Vettel wins in Japan, close to another F1 title

SUZUKA, Japan — Sebastian Vettel won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday but will have to wait to seal a fourth straight Formula One title because rival Fernando Alonso finished fourth.

Vettel led the final 11 of 53 laps and led a Red Bull Racing 1-2 over teammate Mark Webber by 7.1 seconds. Webber, who started from pole, passed Lotus' Romain Grosjean on the penultimate lap. Grosjean led much of the race but wound up third.

It was Vettel's ninth win this season and fifth in a row, a first for the 26-year-old ace and the first to do it since fellow German Michael Schumacher in 2004.

"We had a great car and were fast again this year," Vettel said. "Being able to finish on the podium and to win four times here is incredible. The fans here are incredible; they really respect us."

Vettel leads Alonso by 90 points with four races left — there's a maximum of 25 points in each race — and can clinch the title Oct. 27 by finishing fifth at the Indian Grand Prix.

Vettel's two-stop strategy and controlled tire wear were the difference. Grosjean, who started on the second row, grabbed the lead at the first turn and held it until Lap 29, when he pitted for the second time. Vettel took the lead and waited for his final pit stop on Lap 37.

With fresh tires, Vettel blasted past Grosjean on Lap 41, then took the lead for good shortly thereafter when Webber pitted.

Motorcycles: Dani Pedrosa of Spain won the Malaysian Moto Grand Prix in Sepang for the second straight year.

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