Vettel needs Suzuka surprise to stay in title race

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said after the race that the order for Bottas to concede the lead to title challenger Hamilton was "rationally the right call".

The Finn ceded his position under instruction from the pit wall in Russian Federation last Sunday to gift Hamilton the victory that gave him a 50-point lead over Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings.

Bottas held on to the lead ahead of Hamilton and Vettel as the order settled. "But championship-wise, as a team, we're trying to win both championships, and today, it was a real team effort".

A famous victim of team orders, Felipe Massa has nonetheless backed Mercedes' decision to rob Valtteri Bottas of victory in Russian Federation.

"I'd rather be a baddie now than an idiot at the end of the year".

"Rationally, it was the right decision, but our sporting heart says no". Previous year in Suzuka we saw Hamilton take the victory, What will happen in Japan?

"Lewis was in Brackley this week and is hungry, focused and completely determined to succeed", Austrian Wolff said.

Hamilton is on the verge of greatness, 2018 has brought out the best we have seen in him. Unfortunately for Bottas, when asked during the latter stages of the race if him and Hamilton were likely to swap positions once again, he was told that it wouldn't happen.

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"Mercedes and Hamilton - that's an nearly unbeatable unit". Who knows what will happen in the next races.

As mentioned, Hamilton now has a monumental 50 point advantage over title rival Vettel in the drivers' championship.

A fifth Japanese victory this weekend would be just the ticket for the German, who won four consecutive world championships with Red Bull from 2010 to 2013. "Do I want to be the baddie on Sunday evening for numerous right reasons or the idiot in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season?"

"I'm clever enough, I wasn't a genius in math but I was clever enough to pay attention to make out for myself that it's not getting easier if we lose points", said Vettel.

"I still believe in our chances, yes", he said. "It takes one DNF (did not finish) and then all of a sudden things look different".

"We have a strong package going into the weekend and should be quite competitive there, so I hope that we will be able to see some good results and score more points." .

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene likened the sweeping, high-speed Suzuka circuit to Silverstone, the British Grand Prix venue where then-championship leader Vettel won in July.

"He is an extraordinary professional and a fantastic driver", said the Mercedes driver. The battle with Ferrari remains extremely close. It is a bit tiresome for the race but it makes sense.

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