Sebastian Vettel insists Ferrari hasn't 'lost direction' in F1 title race

Marcus Newton
October 8, 2018

Suzuka, Japan, Oct 5 (AFP) World champion Lewis Hamilton wore the expression of a child in a candy store after utterly dominating Friday's free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Hamilton toppled team-mate Valtteri Bottas to set a session-best 1m28.691s, putting Mercedes seven-tenths clear of Red Bull and a full second clear of Ferrari.

Despite Hamilton and Mercedes' healthy lead in both championships, Wolff is not carried away and cited Hamilton's 2007 title loss where he had held a 17-point lead over Kimi Raikkonen with two rounds remaining and despite such an advantage, Hamilton lost the title to the Ferrari driver in the season finale in Brazil.

Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, a hefty 50 points behind Hamilton with five races remaining, was almost a second adrift of his fellow four-time champion.

"Suzuka has to be one of my favourite circuits, if not the favourite", said the Briton, who has won five of the last six races to close in on a fifth Formula One title.

As the season reaches its climax, the Briton can now afford to score four third-place finishes and one second at the final five grands prix to secure the championship spoils.

"Obviously you don't want to commit suicide", said Vettel, who has won five races to Hamilton's eight in 2018.

Hamilton finished the best part of half-a-second faster than anybody else in practice on Friday.

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Normally we go through everything before the race, all the scenarios, and how we would react to those things. I think every one of us was facing this struggle between our head and our heart on Sunday.

"Today I think, both of us, sliding a bit too much therefore damaging the tyres a bit more than others but I think overall it's been OK. If not, we need to be there just right behind and then see what happens".

"I just came here with the mindset of I know where I've got to get the auto, I know there's always areas to improve".

"I was much better than I had ever been through those particular corners", he declared. I think we can still improve, and in the end we tried something with the auto that managed to give us a bit of a better feeling, so let's see if we can carry that in to tomorrow and find something else.

"It has been a clean Friday".

"We need to focus on that and try to get everything out to put us in the best possible position".

"It looks like we could face quite different conditions in qualifying and race", said race engineer Andrew Shovlin.

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

"We made progress with our cars, the steps that we planned, the steps have been coming".

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