Lewis Hamilton says he could only have dreamed of opening up such a sizeable lead in the Formula One championship after capitalising on Sebastian Vettel's woe to win a pulsating Japanese Grand Prix.
The Briton converted pole into an eighth victory of a campaign that has dramatically swung in his favour in recent races to open up a 59-point advantage over Ferrari rival Vettel.
It was a desperately disappointing day for the German, who retired after just four laps with an engine problem, as Hamilton held off a great fight from Max Verstappen to take the chequered flag at Suzuka.
Victory means the Mercedes man can clinch a fourth world title with victory in the United States Grand Prix if he wins and Vettel places lower than fifth and it is a position Hamilton did not foresee.
"Honestly, I could only have dreamed of having this kind of gap. The Ferraris have put on such a great challenge all year long but I have to put it down to my team," an elated Hamilton said.
"They've done a phenomenal job, reliability has been on point. They're just so meticulous and that's really why we're having the reliability and results we're having."
Verstappen was rarely more than three seconds adrift of Hamilton and, when the Briton complained of vibrating tyres in the closing laps, that gap was cut to just over a second.
"Max drove an outstanding race and honestly it wasn't an easy one for us at all," Hamilton added.
"The Red Bulls just seem to be rapid in the race trim. Obviously, we're quick in qualifying but it got very close at the end with the VSC [virtual safety car] and the restart. The tyres were cold and had a bit of traffic and he caught right up, so it was very close."
Verstappen beat Hamilton at the previous grand prix in Malaysia and reflected on another fine outing in the Red Bull.
"It was a great day again. Suzuka is really great to me, I loved the track last year. The pace today was really promising," he said.
"The first stint on the supersoft I was struggling a bit with the left-front but as soon as we switched to the soft tyre it was very competitive and I was always with Lewis, especially in the last few laps.
"We had great pace it's just really hard to pass. I gave it my all to try and close the gap but the car is really improving race by race so I'm really happy about that."
20 de abril 2018
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|Thiago Silva eyeing PSG exit amid criticism|
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19 de abril 2018
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|Neymar names players to watch at World Cup|
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|Hull inflict more drop-goal misery on Leeds|
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|Burnley 1 Chelsea 2: Conte´s men boost top-four chances with FA Cup warm-up|
|Fenerbahce-Besiktas abandoned after Gunes struck by object thrown from crowd|
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|Real Sociedad 3 Atletico Madrid 0: Barca´s title party set to start|
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|Carrick reveals depression led to England exile|
|´Who are they?!´ - Accrington milk promotion with supermarket stunt|
|Mouthwatering Nadal-Djokovic quarter-final scuppered by Thiem|
|Stunning Gayle century ends Sunrisers´ unbeaten start|
|Conte names Hazard on bench for Burnley clash|
|Rooney denies rift with Everton boss Allardyce|
|Kane will leave Tottenham unless they win trophies, predicts Souness|
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|Portugal´s Sanches has no chance of World Cup selection - Carvalhal|
|Spurs coach Popovich to miss game three after death of wife|
|Nadal reaches 14th straight Monte Carlo quarter-final|
|Better with one arm - Julio Cesar reveals Mourinho´s Casillas jibe|
|New Hamilton deal ´agreed in principle´ for Mercedes|
|Joseph likely to miss England´s tour of South Africa|
|Mourinho has nothing to prove - Pochettino|
|Bhatti pens one-year Glasgow extension|
|I have spoken to the chairman - Allardyce upset by Everton survey|
|Kit cat: Bath player offers signed shirt for missing pet|
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|Thiem rallies to send Djokovic packing in Monte Carlo|
|Sidibe´s Monaco season over but World Cup return possible|
|Guardiola thanks ´unique´ City staff in celebration speech|
|Wan-Bissaka signs long-term Crystal Palace extension|
|Love will be ready for game three, assures Cavs coach Lue|
|Injured Raonic withdraws from Monte Carlo, Cilic advances|
|ECB announces 100-ball format for new domestic competition|
|Bottas aiming to overthrow Hamilton and claim world title|