December 16 2017

Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton position 'not comfortable at all'

December 16 2017, 03:08 | Van Peters

The German star looked gutted as he made an early exit from qualifying in Sepang

The German star looked gutted as he made an early exit from qualifying in Sepang

In Ferrari's case, it struck thrice in the space of two Formula One race weekends.

The 30-year-old crashed out on the opening lap in Singapore, letting Hamilton through to win from fifth.

After being involved in a collision with teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen in Singapore, Sebastian Vettel's championship ambitions took suffered a major blow in Sepang after an engine issue in qualifying forced him to start from the back of the grid. Third on the grid became second when Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari was retired before the race even began.

Ferrari had the fastest auto in the last 2 races and yet scored just 12 points compared to championship leader Mercedes' tally of 68 in that frame to trail by 118 with 5 races to go. Over 56,000 fans attended Sunday's race, an improvement on recent years, and Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak said "hosting the F1 may be reconsidered in the future" and most would welcome it back at some point.

Vettel has a 34-point deficit to recover with only 125 points available.

But Wolff said: "It was clear after just a few laps that both Red Bull and Ferrari had better cars than us but we nevertheless managed to score a good number of points and extend our lead in both championships. I'm happy that I'm here and we're racing, I'm happy to be racing when we have a good chance to do well". But for sure it's not ideal if you retire one auto yesterday and another one today.

"Absolutely, absolutely. I think we need even more than that".

But it still wasn't as bad as it might have been.

Hamilton meanwhile did not have such reliability problems but could not catch race-winner Max Verstappen's Red Bull and was nearly troubled by his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

"You look at the last one [Malaysia], we were far off, and all of a sudden we got pole position". Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne's mood won't be helped by the fact that his team has not won in Japan since Michael Schumacher's 2004 victory.

Lewis Hamilton limbered up for Suzuka by joining National Basketball Association superstar Stephen Curry for a spot of golf in China. This allowed a free hit for Hamilton, who pulled off an unlikely win at the circuit labelled as their weakest.

However, it shouldn't be considered a two-horse race just yet, as in third place is Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, who is only 25 points behind Vettel on 222. He seems unable to work around the issues with the auto as well or as quickly as Hamilton and he is paying the price on track.

"We can not get distracted by the fact we got lucky again". And that is worrisome. True, we have not been competitive enough here in the last two years, so I hope this time it is different.

As you can see in the video above, a media member tries to get Ricciardo to stop, but there's no stopping the cheeky Aussie.

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