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Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton dominates practice but Mercedes insist Ferrari are holding back

Sky Sports | Updated: 2018-10-05 18:00:49

Hamilton loving driving 'more than ever'
It was a supreme day in the car for Hamilton, who led team-mate Valtteri Bottas by four tenths in both sessions.

"This track is awesome. I'm having the best day!" he giggled during Practice Two.

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

"They don't make tracks like this anymore - there's very little room for runoff, a little touch of the grass and you're off in the wall," said the Englishman. "Suzuka has to be one of my favourite circuits, if not the favourite one, it's very cool.

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"The first section is the best roller coaster ride that I've felt in a Formula 1 car. The balance was in quite a nice place, so I was just enjoying it."

Hamilton added: "I'm just loving driving more than ever; when you get in the car, it's just the best, it's so fast and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I do.

"I've just been giving thanks all day today because this is what I've always wanted to do."

So can Ferrari battle Mercedes for pole?
Appearing to back up Wolff's claim that Ferrari are stronger than Friday suggested, Vettel appeared reasonably content with the team's start to the weekend - a day he described as a "clean Friday with no interruptions".

"I was pretty happy, it was pretty good," said Vettel. "It's a monster lap and you always think that there's a little bit more here. We can still improve.

"In the end we tried something on the car that seemed to give us a bit better feeling, so let's see if we can get it together tomorrow and find something else."

Asked if they can bridge the large Friday gap to Mercedes, Vettel replied: "Time will tell, I don't know. We couldn't do that today but it doesn't matter what they do, we look at ourselves, and we will try to get the best out of our package."

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While their deficit has rarely been as large as this at the end of the opening day, Ferrari have consistently tended to not show their full had until Saturday when the car is run at full pelt.

"I don't think we tried something different to other Fridays," Vettel said.. "I think we know what the car can do. If we can grasp pole tomorrow, that is great, but if not we need to be there just right behind."

However, one concern was tyre wear after delivering blisters on his P2 long-run: "We were sliding a bit too much when the temperatures go up."

Japanese GP schedule on Sky F1

Saturday, October 6
3.45am: Japanese GP Practice Three Build-up
4am: Japanese GP Practice Three LIVE!
6am: Japanese GP Qualifying Build-up
7am: Japanese GP Qualifying LIVE!
8.35am: The F1 Show LIVE!

Sunday, October 7
4.30am: Pit Lane LIVE!
5.30am: On the Grid LIVE!
6.10am: The Japanese Grand Prix LIVE!
8.30am: Paddock LIVE!

The title battle continues at this weekend's Japanese GP - watch LIVE on Sky Sports F1. The race begins at 6.10am on Sunday, October 7 with build-up from 4.30am. Get Sky Sports F1.

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