F1 2018: 5 Early Predictions for the Japanese GP

F1 2018: 5 Early Predictions for the Japanese GP

F1 2018: 5 Early Predictions for the Japanese GP

Valtteri Bottas does not want Mercedes to offer him a win in return for handing Lewis Hamilton victory in Sunday's Russian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel defended Mercedes" decision in Sochi to order Valtteri Bottas to move over for Lewis Hamilton, insisting the tactic was a "no-brainer' in the context of the world championship.

Hamilton was allowed to claim a 70th career win when Valtteri Bottas was ordered to move over in Sochi - with the world champion describing it as "the strangest day" of his career.

Bottas stared vacantly as the national anthems were played, and the mood had eased little by the time both Mercedes drivers appeared alongside Vettel for the post-race press conference.

Kimi Raikkonen can expect an emotional reception from his legion of Japanese fans in his final Suzuka race for Ferrari after learning last month that the team would not be retaining his services for 2019.

"Lewis is fighting for the championship and I am not so from the team's point of view it was the ideal result, but maybe not ideal for me", Bottas said. I think he has the possibility of winning many more races himself. I would rather be the baddie today and not the idiot at the end of the year.

Not only is Hamilton closing in on the drivers' championship, but Mercedes are now firm favourites to become only the second team in history to win five consecutive constructors' championships, too.

Vettel finished third and the German saw Hamilton extend his lead over him in the standings.

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"Valtteri did a fantastic job all weekend and he was a real gentleman to let me by", Hamilton told the post-race press conference.

'That's how it goes, but I am also looking forward to next year and starting a new season'.

"Only time will tell if it was necessary, but if we were to lose the championship by one point, would you look back at this race and think we should have worked as a team?"

That was Toto Wolff's assessment of the decision to swap his two drivers, and the Mercedes team principal has a point.

Vettel was encouraged unexpectedly by Ferrari's performance on Sunday when he followed Hamilton and Bottas.

Wolff said: "Rationally it was the right call, but our sporting heart says no".

The Austrian recognised, however, that some might consider it an unsporting gesture to have deprived Bottas of his first win of the season after he had secured pole position. It's not nice to ask them hard questions and I think for the team it doesn't make a difference who wins and for the drivers' championship it does.

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