SUZUKA, Japan — Championship leader Lewis Hamilton won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, taking a major step toward winning his third Formula One title.

The Mercedes driver crossed the finish line 1.2 seconds ahead of Malaysia GP winner Max Verstappen to claim his eighth F1 victory of the season and third at the Suzuka circuit. Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was third.

Hamilton moved 59 points clear of title rival Sebastian Vettel with four races left. Vettel was forced to retire on the third lap when his Ferrari lost power.

With Vettel gone, it quickly became a showdown between Hamilton and Max Verstappen. Hamilton built a comfortable four-second lead before his first pit stop on the 23rd lap.

Verstappen pulled close over the final two laps but wasn’t to able close the gap.

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JIM ARMSTRONG
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