Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Vettel gets better of Hamilton as rain hits Japan first practice

Kristopher Love | 07 October, 2017, 03:25

Hamilton was fastest for a while on the soft-compound Pirellis in a dry FP1, and then set the pace on the supersofts, until Sebastian Vettel first bettered his soft-tyre lap by six-tenths and then also went quicker on the supersofts.

Having dropped the new aero package Mercedes took to Malaysia, this weekend the Briton is giving it another go, as is teammate Valtteri Bottas who persevered with the package at Sepang.

Despite completing just four laps in the afternoon session, Hamilton says he pushed for Mercedes to allow him to run in order to understand the set-up tweaks to his vehicle in the wet having claimed he was "over two seconds off" during his last outing in wet conditions - FP1 at the Malaysian Grand Prix. "I was like, 'look I want to go out" so they let me out.

However, after several Safety Car inspections, attention began to turn back to the track as Race Control announced that the session would start at 14:45 local time with 45 minutes of FP2 remaining.

A first and third Malaysia finish for Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo demonstrated their mid-season form surge has continued apace, and both drivers will look to play spoiler with a auto that seems at least on a par with the Mercedes and Ferrari, despite a Renault power unit that still lacks the punch of its rivals. In FP2, there was a lot of rain, but it felt really important to go out and assess the track and see how the vehicle was feeling as the auto was not good in the wet in Malaysia.

"Generally, the hotter places we struggle a little bit more, being that it's cooler (in Japan) hopefully (it will) bring it back more into our window".

"I'm pretty sure that on Sunday we'll be able to show what we can do". Once cars set up that way overtake you, it can be tough to repass them even if you can out-corner them. I think we were losing a lot on the straight and I don't think it was just engine today.

A red flag came out after Carlos Sainz crashed about 50 minutes into the session when he ran wide and accelerated out of the hairpin.