Published: Mon, October 08, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Hamilton aiming to move closer to title at Japanese GP

Hamilton aiming to move closer to title at Japanese GP

Suzuka, Japan - Lewis Hamilton limbered up for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix by going fastest in Friday's first free practice nearly half-a-second quicker than Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton went on to clock a fastest time of one minute, 28.691 seconds before the Briton produced a sizzling lap of 1:28.217 to top the timesheets in the afternoon, nearly half-a-second quicker than team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton pounded out fastest lap after fastest lap to leave Ferrari and Red Bull deflated, finding extra tenths where other drivers struggled at the iconic Japanese circuit, where top speeds reach 328kph (203mph).

Even victory at Suzuka may be a case of "too little, too late" for the Ferrari driver, with Lewis Hamilton sitting 50 points clear and just five races remaining.

With five races to go, his fifth world championship is nearly in the bag.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in opening practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday after finishing almost half-a-second clear of the rest of the field.

Another Hamilton win in Suzuka will all but end Vettel's hopes of winning his fifth title ahead of the Briton.

Second-placed Sebastian Vettel has not managed a top two finish in his last three outings, costing him serious ground in the title race.

Mercedes dominated Friday practice at Suzuka, leading one-twos in both sessions with Ferrari ending the day 0.8s off the pace.

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"As the season progresses you hope that you can improve, and usually you do get better, but I didn't know I was going to improve in the way that I have".

Vettel won in Belgium before Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid in Italy, though was beaten by Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton in the race.

"It has been a clean Friday, no issues with the auto".

"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".

"I was pretty happy, it was pretty good", said Vettel.

"No interruptions, no issue with the vehicle or anything, so now we have to try to obviously squeeze out everything that is left in the auto for tomorrow". "But we'll see how it is in qualifying tomorrow".

"I just have to stay on it, keep working", said the 33-year-old. We know what the vehicle can do and we need to focus on that to try to get everything out to put us in the best possible position.

The Mercedes cars have clearly made a step forward in the last couple of races, while Ferrari seemed to have lost their edge.

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