Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of winning a fifth Formula One world championship after dominating the Japanese Grand Prix from the start of qualifying all the way through to the chequered flag on Sunday.
He beat his closest challenger, teammate Valtteri Bottas, by 12 seconds as he moved within one victory of a title that would place him alongside Juan Manuel Fangio, the great Argentine, as the only two drivers to have won five crowns. Only Michael Schumacher, who claimed seven titles, has won more.
Hamilton’s victory at Suzuka was never in doubt, with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel never in the running for a podium finish after starting the race eighth on the grid.
In an attempt to overtake Max Verstappen early on, Vettel’s car spun and left him at the back. He recovered to finish sixth, but now sits 67 points behind the British driver, who could win the championship at the US Grand Prix in Austin in two weeks’ time.
If Hamilton wins in Texas and Vettel finishes lower than second, the race will be run. Even if he fails to win the race, the Mercedes star will secure the title if he collects eight more points than Vettel.
Ferrari cars carry PMI branding for first time since tobacco ban
The cars of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen featured new branding at Suzuka’s Japanese Grand Prix. ‘Mission Winnow’ logos adorned Ferrari’s iconic red design, with the branding promoting a project led by US tobacco company Philip Morris International (PMI).
The initiative – aimed at highlighting the importance of science, technology and innovation – appeared on the car’s nose, halo engine cover and rear wing. The significance of the words’ appearance on the car comes with PMI having been a high-profile partner of Ferrari for 45 years.
However, the ‘Mission Winnow’ branding marks the cigarette manufacturers’ first appearance on a Formula One car for more than a decade, with strict advertising laws having prevented the promotion of tobacco products on Formula One cars since 2007.
Ferrari have maintained their red and white principal colours on their cars as a reminder of the partnership with PMI, whose Marlboro brand carries the same colour scheme.
In February, PMI announced that it would promote smoke-free goods, after signing an extension to its agreement with Ferrari until 2021.
Riccardo Parino, PMI's vice-president for global events partnerships, said: “We are coming back with a new initiative after 10 years that we didn't have any branding on the F1 car on the track.”
Both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel had 'Mission Winnow' branding on multiple parts of their Ferrari cars.
Asset Ogilvy retain Greece and Cyprus F1 rights
Greek public relations company Asset Ogilvy has renewed its media rights deal with Formula One in Greece and Cyprus.
With the agency’s current rights contract expiring at the end of the current season, a new agreement has been reached through to the end of the 2021 season. The contract relates to live, delayed and highlight coverage of every Formula One race. However, Formula One retains the right to launch F1 TV, the competition’s in-house over-the-top (OTT) platform in both nations.
The firm has sold on the rights in the two countries every year since 2010, and it is thought that similar resale arrangements are close to being agreed for the new rights deal.
In the last batch of rights, the rights were sold on to ERT – the Greek state-owned public broadcaster, while the rights in Cyprus were sold to telecommunications provider Cyta.
Vietnam Grand Prix set to be added to 2020 calendar
The addition of a Vietnam Grand Prix to the 2020 race calendar is set to be confirmed within the next month after positive talks in Japan between Formula One owners Liberty Media and race organisers.
A race in the country has long been mooted, with a venue pinpointed for the event seven miles west of Hanoi, the nation’s capital city.
Formula One race director Charlie Whiting visited the potential location, which is said to be at least partially road-based, before the race in Japan.
He explained: “There is no actual progress at building the track, but the site has been identified. It is in the advanced stages of design and as far as I am aware, they are aiming for a 2020 Grand Prix.
“That shouldn't be a problem based on previous experience.”
Formula One race director Charlie Whiting (right) met with Vietnam race officials while in Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.