Hamilton: Mercedes surge isn't down to upgrades

Hamilton: Mercedes surge isn't down to upgrades

Hamilton: Mercedes surge isn't down to upgrades

He posted a fastest lap of one minute and 28.217 seconds to finish 0.461sec clear of Bottas in the sister Mercedes.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was third ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, while Vettel finished only fifth.

Having yesterday dismissed that he would take a "now or never" approach to close the fifty-point gap to title rival Lewis Hamilton, today Sebastian Vettel insisted Ferrari would not take a Kamikaze approach in terms of its strategy.

In the form of his life and on a streak of five wins from the last six races, it will be hard to bet against the Briton winning again on Sunday.

Hamilton has won five of the last Formula One races and three of the last four at the Japanese Grand Prix.

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.

Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton dominates practice but Mercedes insist Ferrari are holding back
Hamilton loving life after sweeping Friday practice in Suzuka

Vettel, whose hopes of pipping Hamilton to a fifth Formula One world title look increasingly forlorn, needed to harvest as much data as possible with typhoon rains forecast for the weekend. Vettel has expressed dissatisfaction with several strategy decisions from his team in recent weeks and a decision to use up vital engine mileage at the end of Friday's second session left him annoyed again. I was much better than I had ever been through those particular corners.

"I think the highlights that you mentioned or the races that (have been) mentioned, in qualifying we were not ahead". "With these new cars we are much faster than we were a year ago so just every time you come here the cars are getting faster and faster, the track is just incredible". "Now I just have to stay on it, keep working".

Its situation appears far from ideal, however, with both Vettel and Raikkonen suffering blisters during their long runs on Friday afternoon.

"It has been a clean Friday. We focus on our work and we try to squeeze everything that is left in the auto". "The balance was in quite a nice place, so I was just enjoying it". "Obviously you don't want to commit suicide so I think if we attack we still try to be reasonable".

The Mercedes cars have clearly made a step forward in the last couple of races, while Ferrari seemed to have lost their edge. Every year I come back, there are always areas that I can improve, so I was like: 'There are two or three corners where I know that I need to kill it this year, ' and I got straight up to it.

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