Hamilton 'wasn't expecting' big gap to Ferrari

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Toro Rosso driver Gasly, who also had a trip over the grass out of Turn 2 during the morning, had already been involved in an earlier, more dramatic incident with Hamilton.

The two drivers were summoned to see the stewards to discuss the incident, where officials handed Gasly a reprimand.

"This track is awesome", a giddy Hamilton said over the radio.

"I'm definitively still allowed to win but it will all depend on the situation", said the Finn.

"But our understanding of the vehicle is continuing and our understanding of the auto is where we are making the biggest steps".

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel insisted he would not take any stupid risks at the Japanese Grand Prix despite being in a virtual must-win situation this weekend.

".they don't make tracks like this any more".

In the form of his life and on a streak of five wins from the last six races, it will be hard to bet against the Briton winning again on Sunday.

Hamilton was 0.994 seconds clear of Vettel in FP1, a deficit that Vettel could only trim to 0.833secs in FP2's qualifying simulations. "The team told me that and that was also what I expected".

Hamilton was almost a second quicker than title rival Sebastian Vettel, who could manage no better than fifth despite running the grippiest super-soft tyres on his Ferrari.

Mercedes dominated Friday practice at Suzuka, leading one-twos in both sessions with Ferrari ending the day 0.8s off the pace.

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Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton attends a fan event at the Suzuka Circuit, Japan October 4, 2018. Especially the first and second sectors are insane, the first section is the best roller coaster ride that I've felt in a Formula 1 auto. "I am just grateful for the races I have had and how a lot of then have panned out". There's two or three corners where I know I need to kill it this weekend and I got straight onto it.

"But I think overall, it has been OK".

"I'm just loving driving more than ever; when you get in the auto, it's just the best, it's so fast and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I do".

"I don't think we tried something different to other Fridays", Vettel said.

"If we can grasp pole tomorrow that is great".

"It's been a clean Friday, no interruptions, no issues with the vehicle or anything".

"We are working so hard to fine-tuning this auto, which we are becoming accustomed to now and as I said I'm loving driving more than ever".

Daniel Ricciardo set the third-fastest time in his Red Bull ahead of Vettel's Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Esteban Ocon stayed seventh, the Frenchman once again thebest-of-the-rest in his Force India, and Romain Grosjean was again eighth.

"In the morning they were quicker through nearly every corner but they had a softer tyre".

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