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The battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel remains tight at the top of the Formula One world championship as the season continues at the Suzuka Circuit for the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.
There’s just 34 points separating the leading pair, meaning Ferrari must have an impressive day at Suzuka.
Hamilton has spoken of his fear of the Italian constructor’s pace in Japan, but the British superstar knows another championship is within his grasp.
Here is how you can watch the action as it unfolds in Japan:
Date: Sunday, Oct. 8
Time: 6 a.m. BST/1 a.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports F1 (UK), Channel 4 (UK), NBC Sports (U.S.)
Live Stream: Sky Go (UK), All 4 (UK), NBC Sports App (U.S.)
For the full drivers’ list, visit the F1 website.
Latest driver standings:
1. Lewis Hamilton – 281 pts
2. Sebastian Vettel – 247 pts
3. Valtteri Bottas – 222 pts
4. Daniel Ricciardo – 177 pts
5. Kimi Raikkonen – 138 pts
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As the season counts down to the final four races of the campaign, Hamilton is looking over his shoulder, with a four-time champion breathing down his neck in a very fast car.
Vettel has won only four races compared to Hamilton’s seven, but the German has made sure he has applied consistency to the mechanical reliability of his Scuderia vehicle.
The 30-year-old has avoided a potential five-place grid penalty after his gearbox was given the all-clear ahead of Suzuka, leaving him free to challenge his rival without constraint.
Ferrari confirmed the news:
Scuderia Ferrari @ScuderiaFerrari
The gearbox #Seb5 used in #MalaysiaGP is still available 👍🏼#JapaneseGP https://t.co/TgaqDunXkl
Hamilton furthered his lead by six points at the Malaysian Grand Prix, but Vettel battled from the back of the grid to place in fourth, keeping the pressure on during the business end of the season.
Per Andrew Benson of BBC Sport, Hamilton said Mercedes “have work to do,” with Ferrari in an aggressive mood as his own car falters.
Hamilton said in Malaysia:
“We still have problems with this car and it was magnified here.
“I’m hoping it’s not like this at the next few races. It feels like it is getting worse as the season goes on but it has been great in other races. I have no idea where it will be an issue and where it will be fine. Hopefully it won’t be so bad.”
KIYOSHI OTA/Getty Images
Rain hit practice on Friday, and with Hamilton supreme in the wet, the champion will not mind if the inclement conditions carry on through the weekend.
Red Bull have proved they are edging form, and Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo could puncture the podium slots, separating Hamilton and Vettel.
The pressure is on Vettel, as he must record a victory and pray that the current leader has a nightmare in Japan.
The title race will go down to the wire if the Silver Arrows cannot hold off the Prancing Horse, and the Italians will smell the scent of glory if Vettel produces a comprehensive performance before the season moves on to the United States.