Hamilton laps up Suzuka's 'insane' speed

Suzuka (Japan) (AFP) - World champion Lewis Hamilton wore the expression of a child in a candy store after utterly dominating Friday's free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

"Every time we come to Suzuka, particularly over the last few years, the cars just get faster and faster, it's incredible", he said.

The Briton, who controversially took his eighth chequered flag of the season in Russian Federation last week after Mercedes ordered Bottas to let him through, clocked one minute, 28.691 seconds on super-soft tyres at Suzuka.

Hamilton, victor of five of the last six races, leads Vettel by 50 points in the standings with four races left after Japan.

Hamilton took his 70th chequered flag in controversial circumstances at Sochi last weekend when Mercedes ordered team mate Valtteri Bottas to let him pass.

Hamilton made a sublime start to his campaign in Japan, the Briton recording a time of one minute, 28.217seconds - four-tenths of a second clear of Bottas on another impressive day for Mercedes.

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The Mercedes driver was fastest in both the morning and afternoon sessions by quite a large margin, and at one point in FP2 he declared over the team radio "This track is awesome! So I wasn't expecting that", Hamilton said after the day's action.

"Obviously you don't want to commit suicide", said Vettel, who has won five races to Hamilton's eight in 2018. "It's a monster lap and you always think that there's a little bit more here. It's very cool, especially the first and second sectors are insane", he added.

"The vehicle also felt quite good, although for me it was better in FP1 than in FP2", he said.

Vettel managed to put 19 laps on the super-soft tyre in second practice at Suzuka, but his race pace did not appear to be as strong as Hamilton's. Today, I think we were probably both sliding a little bit too much and therefore damaging the tyres probably a bit more than others. "I'm just so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I do". "We couldn't do that today but it doesn't matter what they do, we look at ourselves and try to get the best from our package". "I was like "There are two or three corners where I know that I need to kill it this year" and I got straight up to it".

Hamilton expanded on those comments afterwards, explaining just how much joy he gets from driving around the iconic Suzuka circuit. "The weather is likely to change tomorrow - one small mistake and you're off".

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