Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Hamilton enjoys 'best day' as Mercedes star dominates practice

Hamilton nearly 0.5s clear in Japan as Alonso makes mistake			Image by Mauger  LAT Hamilton nearly 0.5s clear in Japan as Alonso makes mistake Image by Mauger LAT
Cassandra Gardner | 09 October, 2018, 08:15

Sebastian Vettel has told Ferrari to focus extracting the maximum potential from its own vehicle and ignore the advantage enjoyed by Mercedes in Friday practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Verstappen's teammate Daniel Ricciardo was slowest of the drivers from the top three teams, just 0.015 seconds behind Raikkonen. "What a great day!"

"They don't make tracks like this anymore", he said.

"We need to focus on that and try to get everything out to put us in the best possible position", said Vettel, who realistically will need a fifth Japan victory on Sunday to keep his fading championship hopes alive. "I'm just so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I do".

"If it goes well, we will know that, despite the hard situation in terms of the classification, we still have the right tools with which to fight all the way to the very end", the Italian said.

"I was pretty happy - I think it was pretty good".

Hamilton expanded on those comments afterwards, explaining just how much joy he gets from driving around the iconic Suzuka circuit.

Meanwhile, the second Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, finished in P2 behind Hamilton in both sessions.

Wolff believes the timesheets flatter Mercedes and Ferrari's performance in the fast corners and lack of pace on the straights - which can be traced in the team's Global Positioning System tracking data - shows Ferrari has turned its engines down and the gap is actually closer than it appears to be.

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"Obviously you don't want to commit suicide, so I think if we attack we will still try to be reasonable".

McLaren did not run on the fastest super-soft tyre because they have chosen to bring only four sets to Japan for each driver - three fewer than anyone else. "When we have both the softer tyre, we are gaining a little bit in a straight line".

Mercedes took a surprise step forward in Singapore in September, a track that had traditionally been a bogey circuit for them, and Hamilton took pole and a dominant win. "We are actually losing a bit through the Esses, the fast corners". "My dad's having tennis lessons so I said to him we should have a game".

Another factor which might complicate matters is the weather. It's a long weekend and today is only Friday.

Vettel must overhaul Hamilton at a rate of 10 points per race if he is to wrestle back control of the 2018 title, but downplayed that it is a case of "now or never" in the scrap.

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

"Then for Sunday we're expecting hot and sunny conditions".

"Also, in Russian Federation, it seemed that we were a lot ahead of everyone else on Friday, but in qualifying it gets more intense".

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