LEWIS HAMILTON has fired a warning to Sebastian Vettel after declaring that he is back up to speed following his struggles in Singapore and Malaysia.
The championship leader was relieved after complaining about being off the pace in the two previous races, which left his Mercedes team baffled.
Hamilton demanded a response from his engineers and he was all smiles after Friday’s practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Despite being beaten by Vettel to top-spot on the timesheets for the morning session, and heavy rain making the second practice a wash out, Hamilton was confident he was back on track.
He said: “It’s been an interesting day. The car is feeling much better than it was in Malaysia.
“I’m glad that we had the dry session for FP1. In FP2, there was a lot of rain, but it felt really important to go out and assess the track and see how the car was feeling as the car was not good in the wet in Malaysia.
“The car feels back to normal, so I’m ready to race.”
Hamilton braved the heavy rain to complete four laps during the second session, which was delayed due to the downpour.
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He was the only one of only five drivers who set a lap time and says he only did it to put on a show for the spectators who braved the rain.
He added: “The fans are pretty special here – to be out there in the rain, waiting for us to go out through the whole of FP2.
“That’s also another reason I wanted to go out and at least give them a little bit of a show. So hopefully at least they got to see something as not many cars went out.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s team-mate at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas, who has been struggling for form, has been hit with a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.
Speaking ahead of the race, Hamilton said he is “preparing for war” with Vettel.
The 32-year-old said: “Still, this deep into the season, I have no idea where it is going be good, where it’s going be great – like Silverstone – or where it’ll be a real struggle like Malaysia or Singapore.
“All I’ve got to do is make sure I’m fit, healthy, focused, there on time, at the meeting, understood the car and I’ve done my study.
“Basically prepare for war.
“That’s what I try and do, make sure every weekend I’m the best prepared I can be.”
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