Hamilton fastest in practice for Japanese Grand Prix | AP sports

Grant SmithOct 09, 2018

Hamilton also narrowly avoided a crash with Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly in the first session.

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said Thursday he still had mixed feelings after being gift-wrapped a controversial win by Mercedes in Russian Federation last weekend.

"This track is awesome". We know what the vehicle can do.

For Ferrari it holds special memories.

".they don't make tracks like this any more".

Lewis Hamilton admits he was surprised to see such a gap between himself and the rest of the field after Friday practice at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel was frustrated by a "nonsense" decision from Ferrari in second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Jean Todt, the Ferrari team boss at the time and now the FIA president, recalls that moment as his best in the sport.

Wolff is not getting carried away as he acknowledged even Hamilton's 50-point advantage is not enough to declare the title race over ahead of this weekend in Japan.

Hamilton says the pace turnaround between Mercedes and Ferrari has been a surprise, but he does not think the explanation comes from any new parts on the auto. "It has to be one of my favourite circuits, if not the favourite", Hamilton said. Especially the first and second sectors are insane, the first section is the best roller coaster ride that I've felt in a Formula 1 auto.

"But overall the vehicle felt pretty good throughout all sectors, I just had some balance issues, struggling a bit with understeer". There's two or three corners where I know I need to kill it this weekend and I got straight onto it.

"I think overall it's been OK".

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

"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".

"It has been a clean Friday". "My team and I, we're working so well together in fine-tuning this auto".

The sister Prancing Horse of Kimi Raikkonen, a Japanese Grand Prix victor back in 2005 with McLaren, pipped Verstappen's team mate Daniel Ricciardo to fifth - but only just, the Finn edging that battle by going 0.015s quicker than the Australian.

Force India's Esteban Ocon was the quickest vehicle outside the usual top three teams, finishing seventh ahead of Haas's Romain Grosjean.

Validating his theory, Wolff continued: "In the morning they were quicker through nearly every corner but they had a softer tyre".

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