Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has called on his Formula 1 squad to “challenge the impossible”, despite the Scuderia’s 2018 title hopes hanging by a thread.

Lewis Hamilton’s commanding victory in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix has moved him to the brink of clinching his fifth world championship, having pulled 67 points clear of Sebastian Vettel following a nightmare weekend for Ferrari.

A tyre blunder in qualifying left Kimi Raikkonen and Vettel fourth and eighth respectively on the Suzuka grid as Mercedes locked out the front-row, which the reigning world champions converted into a 1-2 finish to move nearly 80 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’.

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Vettel’s slim title hopes all but ended in Japan following a costly clash with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen that led to a recovery charge to finish a distant sixth – a result that means Hamilton could wrap up the championship as early as the next race in Austin.

“It’s easy to be pragmatic,” Arrivabene told Sky Sports after the race. “Saturday we had a problem that everyone knows about but as I said many times I was a bit disappointed but we win and we lose together.

“I have to say concerning the race, the teams and the drivers reacted very well. We have circumstances during the races that impede us to achieve the podium.

“I think at least the podium was in our hands and the car, even if it was damaged, both of the cars, it was going quite well.

“Now concerning the future races, I know the situation looks impossible but our job sometimes is to challenge the impossible and this is what we are going to do, we try to do for the future four races.”

Arrivabene also moved to defend Vettel’s attempted pass on Verstappen that resulted in him spinning to the rear of the field. The pair tangled at Spoon as they battled over third place in the early stages, leaving both drivers blaming each other for the incident.

Asked for his view on Vettel’s decision to attack Verstappen despite knowing he had a penalty, Arrivabene replied: “Why do we have to talk always about the mistakes?

“We got the news about the penalty very, very late, Sebastian was doing his job and as far as I know his car was on the inside.

“If you want to talk about race incident, I accept this version but the fact is we weren’t able to exploit all of our potential.”

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