Vettel value to deal a blow to Hamilton in qualifying
Race for Japan pole hots up
Japanese Grand Prix qualifying
Sky Sports F1, 7am Saturday
Lewis Hamilton drifted slightly from 10-11 to 11-10 to claim what would be his tenth pole position of the season after being beaten to the fastest time by Sebastian Vettel in Japanese Grand Prix practice.
The expected rain held off for much of the opening 90-minute session, but second practice was virtually washed out with only five cars setting times.
Championship leader Hamilton has posted some incredible qualifying performances this season, getting pace out of his Mercedes that hadn't looked possible in the preliminary running.
However, he managed only fifth on the grid in Singapore and was somewhat fortunate to grab pole position in Malaysia last time.
Ferrari were quick in Sepang and Kimi Raikkonen missed out by only 0.04 seconds after locking his brakes entering the final corner on his fastest lap.
Vettel would almost certainly have also been at the front of the battle for pole last week had engine issues not prevented him from taking any meaningful part in the session.
The German made a perfect start to his weekend at Suzuka, outpacing Hamilton by two-tenths of a second in the dry first session.
Hamilton won't have learned anything from his few laps in the wet in the afternoon, and that will hurt Mercedes.
There is also a chance that final practice could be rain-hit before better weather arrives for qualifying, which could be another disadvantage to Mercedes.
The Silver Arrows are sensitive to track conditions and have not looked at their strongest when, as seems likely for qualifying, the road has been washed clear of racing rubber.
It's impossible to rule out Hamilton but at bigger odds Vettel, who has ten front-row starts to his name this term, looks much better value.
S Vettel fastest qualifier
1pt 15-8 Betfair, Paddy Power
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