Japanese Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton top in wet second practice

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But it was Vettel who would clock the fastest time of 1minute 29.16seconds in his Ferrari to draw first blood in his duel with Hamilton.

The Formula 1 world championship leader completed the most laps of any driver, joint with Lance Stroll on four laps in FP2, as the session became largely non-eventful due to heavy rain which delayed the start of the session for 45 minutes due to track conditions.

"Obviously the results were not the best over the last couple of races but I think we are strong and I think we have all reasons to be confident", Sport24 quoted Vettel as saying.

The Finnish duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas finished fourth and fifth respectively, neither able to match the pace of their teammates in P1 and P2, while Max Verstappen was over a second down on Ricciardo in the second Red Bull, ending up sixth.

"It's been an interesting day; the vehicle is feeling much better than it was in Malaysia. I was like, 'look I want to go out" so they let me out.

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Both Red Bull and Ferrari failed to turn out their drivers for the second practice session to preserve their wet-weather tyres in the event they are required during Sunday's race. In second practice there was a lot of rain, but it felt really important to go out and assess the track and see how the vehicle was feeling. I think overall the vehicle is working and it's up to us to improve.

With five races remaining, Hamilton leads Vettel by 34 points in the driver championship. "So hopefully at least they got to see something as not many cars went out".

The German further pointed out that the vehicle is working really well and that it is upto them to focus on improving their performances. We have all the right ingredients - now we have to bring it to the track. But we're certainly close.

Overall it was a largely inconclusive day because each team can never be sure on a Friday just what engine settings and fuel loads rivals are running, and besides the rain there was another disruption in the morning when 16 minutes of the session were lost when Carlos Sainz crashed his Toro Rosso very heavily on the exit to the hairpin.