Hamilton fastest as Mercedes dominate Japanese GP practice


Suzuka (Japan), Oct 5 (IANS) Britain's Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) on Friday led the second practice session at the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, while Germany's Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) was third.

Hamilton heads into this weekend with a 50 point lead of title rival Sebastian Vettel, and the four-time World Champion thought there would be more from the German and his team.

Shod with the supersoft rubber for the first time this weekend, he clocked an impressive 1m 28.217s, finishing four tenths ahead of Silver Arrows team mate Valtteri Bottas in second.

Vettel's afternoon effort, while quicker than his best attempt in the first 90 minutes, was still slower than Hamilton's morning benchmark, which the Briton had set on the less grippy soft tires.

It was a supreme day in the auto for Hamilton, who led team-mate Valtteri Bottas by four tenths in both sessions.

Title rivals Ferrari, who used the faster super soft compound compared to Hamilton supposedly slower soft compound were nearly a second back in fourth and fifth.

"This track is awesome", he whooped over the team radio.

Suzuka is one of the drivers favourite tracks and Bottas explains that it is due to how much on the edge you are with one mistake having big consequences.

Hamilton said: "Suzuka has to be one of my favourite circuits, if not the favourite one - it's very cool". I was much better than I had ever been through those particular corners.

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"Sorry, but I don't think it's true; I don't think we lost direction".

Vettel said: "I don't think we tried something different to other Fridays".

"I think I've said many times that we have a strong vehicle, but I don't think, against the people's opinions, that we had a dominant auto at any point this year", the German said.

Mercedes then locked out the front row in Russian Federation last weekend, where Bottas handed Hamilton the win to make it four victories in the past five races for the Briton. "I am just grateful for the races I have had and how a lot of then have panned out".

"Every time we come to Suzuka, the cars just get faster and faster".

Vettel, however, denied that Ferrari has consistently had the better auto, insisting the difference between them and Mercedes has been minimal.

"If we can grasp pole tomorrow that is great".

"When you get in the vehicle it's just the best, it's so much fun and I'm truly grateful to have the opportunity I have".

Its situation appears far from ideal, however, with both Vettel and Raikkonen suffering blisters during their long runs on Friday afternoon.