Sebastian Vettel: "It was good to feel the power of the car"

Posted October 07, 2017

Lewis Hamilton compared driving his Mercedes Formula One vehicle to riding the "craziest roller coaster" after storming to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix. The combination of all three sectors saw him set a lap time 1.7s faster than Michael Schumacher's 2006 Q2 lap time at Suzuka, which had stood as the track record for over a decade. "It's been a really good day and every lap was fantastic".

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"I'm running out of opportunities to get this pole so I made sure I made it stick today".

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas has discussed his frustration at recent performances this week, so reports of a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change will do little to improve his mood.

The penalty will elevate Vettel to the front row of the grid, putting the two title contenders side by side for Sunday's heavyweight battle between multiple champions.

Hamilton leads Vettel in the F1 drivers' championship by 34 points going into the Japanese Grand Prix and is prepared "for war" as he tries to extend his advantage over his rival.

"I don't know what pace they will have".

"It has taken me forever to get this pole", he said.

Apart from the massive points lead, Button believes Mercedes' strong reliability will not allow Vettel to close the gap by the time they get to the final race in Abu Dhabi. "It has really helped me deliver", he said. "It feels back to normal, so I'm ready to race". "I love the track".

Then they were using a new aerodynamic package that was meant to generate more downforce, but it took a while to sort out and Hamilton eventually reverted to his Singapore configuration to take pole position and finish second to Max Verstappen's Red Bull.

The pair will fill the second row but were about a second off Hamilton's pace.

The big news this morning is that following two relatively trouble-free weekends - we did say relatively - it is business as usual for Fernando Alonso and McLaren, the Spaniard incurring a 25-place grid penalty following an engine change after a hydraulic leak was discovered in his power unit.

World championship leader Hamilton went fastest in that session, setting a time of one minute, 48.719 seconds, kicking up a dense mist of spray as he toured the circuit, almost 20 seconds off Vettel's morning best on a dry track.

Nico Hülkenberg was 12th quickest, starts 11th, with Kevin Magnussen, Jolyon Palmer and Carlos Sainz lining up behind.

A heavy shunt for Romain Grosjean in Q1 brought the first stage of qualifying to an early end, with the Frenchman careering off the circuit through the esses in the first sector and causing a significant amount of damage to the front-end of his Haas auto.