3 October 2014
F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Mercedes pace excites Hamilton for Suzuka qualifying
Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, and admits that he has high hopes for Saturday's F1 qualifying session.
Lewis Hamilton says that he cannot wait for qualifying and race day at the Japanese Grand Prix, such is the pace he found in his Mercedes on day one at Suzuka.
The Briton topped the second of Friday's two free practice sessions by two-tenths over team-mate Nico Rosberg, but reckoned that there was more to come from his set-up after a moment exiting the Degner Curves potentially cost him a chunk of time. Hamilton ended the day with a 1m 35.078s best and, while not overly impressed with his own showing, was happy with the performance of the W05 compared to its rivals
“The first sector was really good on new tyres, but the rear tyres take such a beating through the first sector and I took too much out of them so, when I reached turn nine, it was just wheel-spinning,” he explained, “It was quite an unusual moment and it nearly took me off - it went one way and I caught it, but then it shot me the other way and I nearly went into the barrier!
“I bailed out of that lap, and the tyres were at their best that lap. I imagine there are probably two or three tenths in a fresh tyre compared to a second lap tyre, [so] it's a great feeling coming here, knowing the pace we have compared to everyone else, but there are still things we can improve on.
“[The gap to the rest] changes from track to track, but it's amazing what this team has done to be able to come here, one of the most demanding circuits for downforce, and be that competitive. It's fantastic….”
With rain beginning to fall as the cars were returned to pit-lane, and a dismal forecast for the rest of the weekend, things could take a twist on Saturday, but Hamilton insisted that he was looking forward to topping the timesheets again.
“I'm excited about [qualifying],” he admitted, “I hope that it's dry, but I definitely think that, as a team, we have the opportunity to be at the front, so that's good. You can't overtake here, so qualifying is going to be very important.”
Asked about the potential for extreme weather courtesy of a typhoon that threatens to skirt Suzuka on Sunday – and even the possibility of racing on Saturday – Hamilton appeared unfazed.
“I just want to race - the sooner it comes the better!” he laughed, “[Heavy rain] wouldn't be fun around here as it's such a hard circuit. I'm sure it would be fun, but it's a very challenging circuit.”
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