Lewis Hamilton Just Broke A Lap Record In Suzuka

With just five races to go Lewis Hamilton's dreams of a fourth world championship are well on course ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

Reminded that Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff called the vehicle a "bit of a diva" earlier this year, Hamilton likened it to his own often prickly character.

But Hamilton looked much more at home at Suzuka, a track he had been out-qualified at by former teammate Nico Rosberg the previous seasons.

"In the last years, we have performed very strongly there".

There was little to choose between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull as all drivers looked to beat the incoming downpour, with Vettel eventually pipping Hamilton by two tenths of a second.

Per Andrew Benson of BBC Sport, Hamilton said Mercedes "have work to do", with Ferrari in an aggressive mood as his own vehicle falters.

"It's my first time, I was running out of opportunities to get this pole!".

The fastest 15 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Bottas, Vettel, Ricciardo, Perez, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Massa, Palmer, Alonso, Sainz, Vandoorne and Magnussen.

The 34-point lead to overhaul now stand as something of a sporting Matterhorn to overcome at this stage in proceedings, but momentum in this sport is an unpredictable beast at the best of times.

He said: "It's been an interesting day, the vehicle is feeling much better than it was in Malaysia".

"I'm glad that we had the dry session for FP1", he added.

Total obliteration by Lewis Hamilton.

"It's been a hard weekend, but nevertheless the speed is there", said the four-time champion, who has four wins this year to Hamilton's seven.

Vettel has won only four races compared to Hamilton's seven, but the German has made sure he has applied consistency to the mechanical reliability of his Scuderia vehicle.

There were already positives for him going into the weekend, with Ferrari saying his gearbox was undamaged in a weird collision with Williams rookie Lance Stroll on the cool down lap after the Malaysian race. A five-place grid penalty however, demotes the Finn to seventh on the grid for Sunday's race, leaving Hamilton alongisde Sebastian Vettel on the front row.

"Also you have two or three teams fighting for wins and that hasn't been the case for so long". "This year it's different".

But both he and Hamilton also have to contend with a resurgent Red Bull.

Everyone went out on the super soft Pirellis except Hamilton and Vettel who were on the soft compound and first and third in the early going.

The retired champion, whose rivalry with Hamilton started out in a friendly fashion when they were teenage karters but turned nearly glacial by the end, said the Briton was also mastering the mental side. But we're certainly close.

"I'm just hoping if it starts to swing the other way, we have enough force to push it back to where it should be".

  • Julie Sanders