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Japanese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes feels 'strong' at Suzuka

[img]http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/C5EA/production/_98166605_lewishamiltoninrain_getty.jpg" srcset="http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/240/cpsprodpb/C5EA/production/_98166605_lewishamiltoninrain_getty.jpg 240w, http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/320/cpsprodpb/C5EA/production/_98166605_lewishamiltoninrain_getty.jpg 320w, http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/480/cpsprodpb/C5EA/production/_98166605_lewishamiltoninrain_getty.jpg 480w, http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/624/cpsprodpb/C5EA/production/_98166605_lewishamiltoninrain_getty.jpg 624w, http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/800/cpsprodpb/C5EA/production/_98166605_lewishamiltoninrain_getty.jpg 800w" sizes="(min-width: 900px) 50vw, (min-width: 600px) 70vw, 100vw" alt="Lewis Hamilton" class="">
Lewis Hamilton was 0.799 seconds quicker than Force India's Esteban OconBritain's Lewis Hamilton said after Friday practice at the Japanese Grand Prix that Mercedes were "definitely strong" and could compete with Ferrari.Hamilton, who leads Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 34 points in the title race, said the car felt "massively different" from the last race in Malaysia."It's definitely in a better direction, in the wet and in the dry," he said.
Hamilton topped the wet afternoon session and was second, two tenths down on Vettel, in a dry first practice.
Predict your qualifying top three for the Japanese Grand Prix
Cheese flavoured chocolate, anyone[/img]

[img]data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7" data-src="http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/{width}{hidpi}/cpsprodpb/A132/production/_98166214_japanesegrandprixrain_getty.jpg" data-sizes="auto" alt="Fans in rain">
The second practice session was delayed by 45 minutesHamilton was one of only five drivers to set a lap time in a second session shortened by half because of heavy rain in the first 45 minutes.He said: "It was important for me [to go out in the wet] because the car felt different in first practice compared to last week - massively, massively different - and in the rain [in practice] in the last race we were, like, 2.5 seconds off and the car was terrible so it was important for me to just go out and double check if that's still the case here. "It feels so different to the last race."Mercedes had only the third-fastest car behind Ferrari and Red Bull in race trim at Sepang but Hamilton benefited from problems for Vettel, who could finish only fourth after an engine failure in qualifying left him at the back of the grid.Japanese Grand Prix second practice results
Japanese Grand Prix coverage details
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

While teams were given gifts, they engineered their own boats to sail down the pitlane as the rain poured down
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne joined in with admiring the Japanese fans' many gifts given to drivers
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

Another chance to turn it around[/img]
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP//yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7[/img]

A Stormtrooper bizarrely escapes the Star Wars costumes department to attend the Japanese Grand Prix practice - as you do
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