Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

Hamilton fastest in practice for Japanese Grand Prix

Hamilton fastest in practice for Japanese Grand Prix

The Briton lapped the 5.8-kilometre Suzuka circuit in one minute, 28.691 seconds on the yellow-marked soft tyre, going 0.446 seconds faster than Bottas, who set his quickest time on the slower medium tyre.

Daniel Ricciardo set the third-fastest time in his Red Bull ahead of Vettel's Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Having yesterday dismissed that he would take a "now or never" approach to close the fifty-point gap to title rival Lewis Hamilton, today Sebastian Vettel insisted Ferrari would not take a Kamikaze approach in terms of its strategy.

Hamilton has won three of the last four races staged here in Suzuka, and the world champion again appears in impressive form.

At the Italian Grand Prix in early September, Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid, but that was the last of a series of races dating back to the German Grand Prix in late July when the Italian team appeared to have the fastest auto.

Bottas headed Vettel by a tenth at that point but the Ferrari was running supersoft tyres and barely outpaced Hamilton, who was only on mediums.

But Hamilton is taking nothing for granted while it is still mathematically possible for Vettel to catch him in the title race. Although overcast on Friday, the conditions for practice remained cool and dry - which might not be the case over the rest of the weekend. "Today I think we were both sliding a little bit too much and therefore damaging the tires a bit more than others", he added.

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

"Every time we come to Suzuka, particularly over the past few years, the cars just get faster and faster", Hamilton said.

"It's been a clean Friday, no interruptions, no issues with the auto or anything. I am just grateful for the races I have had and how a lot of then have panned out". I was much better than I had ever been through those particular corners.

Vettel won in Belgium before Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid in Italy, though was beaten by Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton in the race.

"You can always do something, the question is if it works", Vettel told Sky Sports.

"When I look back at those recent races, I couldn't have hoped for better performances", Hamilton, 33, said.

"We have some work to do ahead of tomorrow", said Verstappen.

"Maybe the next couple of tracks are better suited for us, we will know when we get there", said Vettel.

"No interruptions, no issue with the vehicle or anything, so now we have to try to obviously squeeze out everything that is left in the auto for tomorrow". "I think we know what the auto can do".

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