Have Ferrari blown it?
There’s no longer any doubt about whether Lewis Hamilton will win this year’s Formula One World Championship, said Andrew Benson on BBC Sport online. “It’s just a question of when.” The Mercedes driver’s victory in the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday extended his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel to 59 points – with only 100 available from the season’s four remaining races. Just six weeks ago, Vettel was still in the lead – as he had been all season – and it looked as if “the title fight would go to the last race”. But in the past month, his season has “imploded... in quite astonishing fashion”. First, in the Singapore Grand Prix, Vettel made a “catastrophic misjudgement” and crashed at the start. Then, in Malaysia, the Ferrari driver suffered an engine problem in qualifying; this week, in Suzuka, a broken spark plug on his car forced him to retire.
“Ferrari are the most famous team in F1,” said Rebecca Clancy in The Times. And they are the richest, with a budget of around £300m. Yet they have gone a decade without winning the drivers’ title – and now, barring a miracle, they will have to wait at least another season. “Ferrari’s lack of reliability has become a bad joke,” said Tom Cary in The Daily Telegraph. It has “sucked the oxygen” out of a thrilling duel for the title. If Hamilton beats Vettel by more than 16 points at the US Grand Prix, later this month, the season will be “mathematically over”. In truth, “it already is”.