- Formula 1 may have jetted across to Asia following last weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, but the big talking point on Thursday at Suzuka remained Mercedes’ use of team orders in Sochi. Lewis Hamilton said F1 had to “accept it and move on,” while teammate Valtteri Bottas also said he has closed the chapter on the case - but remains confident he will have a chance to win races this year before Hamilton clinches the drivers’ title.

- Haas team boss Gunther Steiner was the only team principal up for media duties on Thursday, and he said he would have made the same call as Mercedes chief Toto Wolff: “You have to go the way with team orders, if the championship is on the line, because that is the ultimate goal why you do this: to win a championship.”



- One question lingering in F1 circles is whether Kimi Raikkonen would have done the same for Sebastian Vettel given his upcoming departure as Ferrari braces for another title defeat. The Finn was non-plussed by the matter, though: “It was nothing to do with me really so we’ll see what happens.”

- Raikkonen’s main contribution to Thursday at Suzuka was the launch of his entertaining Haiku book as part of the new ‘Mission Winnow’ scheme between Philip Morris International and Ferrari, with the team debuting a tweaked livery to promote the initiative. The ‘Haikus’ were, however, not Haikus, as they did not fit the 5-7-5 rhyme scheme required…

- Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson revealed his sights are set on a switch to IndyCar for 2019 after losing his Sauber F1 seat, with the hope of using the series as a way to keep sharp and competitive before making an F1 return down the line. A subsequent report from RACER states Ericsson is in the frame for a seat with Carlin.

- Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc both conceded they were braced for a tough first F1 weekend at Suzuka given their close friendships with Jules Bianchi, who sustained severe head injuries in the race in 2014 that led to his death nine months later. Gasly laid a flower at the corner Bianchi crashed while on a track walk on Thursday.

- Gasly will be racing with the updated C-spec Honda power unit at Suzuka after Toro Rosso shelved its usage after FP1 in Russia. Both Gasly and teammate Brendon Hartley are both confident the brake issues that forced them both to retire in Russia have been resolved, with tweaks being made to the system supplied by Brembo.

- Both Toro Rosso drivers arrived off the back of a busy few days in Japan that had seen them visit a number of key Honda sites, including its F1 headquarters in Sakura, as the Japanese manufacturer prepares for its home race. Honda is also the title sponsor of this year’s race for the very first time.

- Hartley remained largely coy when asked about his future after Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said in Russia that he must “beat Gasly” to retain his 2019 seat. “Well in Singapore I was ahead until I let him past. I don’t know if that counts or not,” Hartley said, who has stressed he has a valid contract for next year.

- In terms of other silly season developments, Sergey Sirotkin said he is keen to see through the start of the project at Williams after a tough debut season in F1. A seat alongside the Russian for next year appears to be wide open, with the likes of Artem Markelov, George Russell and Robert Kubica all being linked with the drive.

- Plans for a new qualifying format that eliminates four drivers in the opening three rounds before an eight-car Q4 were met with a lukewarm response in the paddock on Thursday following their discussion in the Strategy Group. Sebastian Vettel joked there may be a Q9 or Q10 in 10 years’ time, but the snarkiest answer came from Stoffel Vandoorne, who said: “We’re out in Q1 anyway, so it doesn’t change for me.” Vandoorne has been eliminated in Q1 at every race since the Canadian Grand Prix in June.

- Drivers are braced for the possibility of wet running on Friday and Saturday due to typhoons currently around Japan and the Asian-Pacific region. However, Brendon Hartley said the forecast for rain was even stronger on Thursday, when only a light drizzle fell at Suzuka.

- Sauber’s Charles Leclerc admitted he was uncertain as to why the team had been so strong in Sochi, where he finished as the leading midfield driver. Leclerc was also uneasy about the team’s chances of repeating that display at Suzuka.

- Haas team boss Gunther Steiner said the team may be set to cut ties with Santino Ferrucci for 2019 due to his pending deal to race in IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing. “If he goes IndyCar racing, I don’t think there is a lot of sense to keep him on as a development driver,” Steiner said of Ferrucci. “I think then he has picked his career path. But we haven’t discussed it internally, so we don’t know what we are doing.”

- The Japanese fans were out in force on Thursday at Suzuka, packing out the main grandstand despite there being no on-track running. The regular vast array of merchandise and fan-made kit appeared, including the famed rear wing hats with working DRS and - in an upgrade for 2018 - the Halo.

- Finally, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo admitted he had a hairy moment at Degner 1 while conducting a Pirelli Hot Lap behind the wheel of an Aston Martin car at Suzuka on Thursday. “I shat myself,” Ricciardo said. “I just drove some guests and competition winners. I scared myself! The hot laps are fun if it’s dry. If it’s dry you can do some proper drifting, in the wet it’s pretty unpredictable.”


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