LEWIS HAMILTON SET AN IMPOSING PACE AS MERCEDES IMPRESSES JAPANESE GRAND PRIX PRACTICE.

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Lewis Hamilton set an imposing pace as Mercedes impressed in first practice at the Japanese Grand Prix.



The world championship leader was 0.446 seconds quicker than team-mate Valtteri Bottas - and 0.682secs quicker than Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in third place.

Hamilton was using softer tyres than Bottas - but earlier in the session had been just 0.183secs slower than the Finn using tyres one step harder.

Hamilton also narrowly avoided a huge crash with Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly. 

Meamwhile, Sebastian Vettel has insisted Ferrari have not 'lost direction' with development of their 2018 car despite their title bid faltering since the summer break.

Beaten by championship rival Lewis Hamilton in five of the last six events, Vettel has fallen 50 points behind in the title fight as a season consistently set on an upwards trajectory in the first half of the year has started to flatline.

But if Vettel is worried about his waning chances of claiming a fifth title ahead of Hamilton, he isn't showing it.

"We haven't lost direction," said Vettel. "We have made progress, the steps that were planned were the steps that came. Maybe they have made bigger or smaller steps. But we are where we wanted to be.

Read 254 times Last modified on October 05 2018

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