Hamilton 'wasn't expecting' big gap to Ferrari

Hamilton 'wasn't expecting' big gap to Ferrari

The four-time world champion was in a class of his own to lead Mercedes one-twos in both sessions as Ferrari and Red Bull failed to match his pace.

After leading the morning practice, Hamilton clocked a time of 1 minute, 28.217 seconds in Friday's second practice session, finishing 0.461 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Ferrari, meanwhile, did not have the best of days as both Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen struggled to find the optimum balance in the vehicle, which is crucial at circuit like Suzuka.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, whose hopes of pipping Hamilton to a fifth world title are quickly evaporating following the Briton's run of five victories in the last six races, refused to hit the panic button.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel insisted he would not take any stupid risks at the Japanese Grand Prix despite being in a virtual must-win situation this weekend.

Defending champion Hamilton leads the drivers' championship, with Bottas in third, while Mercedes are out in front in the constructors' standings, having recorded a one-two in Russian Federation last week.

That was 0.833 seconds quicker than Vettel, who improved from fifth in the morning to third quickest in the second session but had no answer to Hamilton's pace. "Obviously you don't want to commit suicide so I think if we attack we still try to be reasonable". "Now I've just got to stay on it, keep going, keep working".

"I just came here with the mindset of I know where I've got to get the auto, I know there's always areas to improve". "It's a monster lap and you always think that there's a little bit more here".

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"It's been a clean Friday, no interruptions, no issues with the auto or anything".

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.

"Overall it's a good starting point for the weekend, but it's hard to say where we stand in relation to the others".

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

"We'll see how it is in qualifying tomorrow".

"We know what the auto can do", he added, "and we need to focus on that and try to get everything out to put us in the best possible position".

"Maybe the next couple of tracks are better suited for us, we will know when we get there", said Vettel. "We're expecting some rain overnight and the wind looks strong tomorrow which could make things tricky for the drivers in qualifying".

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