Japanese Grand Prix: Ferrari says Sebastian Vettel's gearbox is good for Suzuka

Japanese Grand Prix: Ferrari says Sebastian Vettel's gearbox is good for Suzuka

Japanese Grand Prix: Ferrari says Sebastian Vettel's gearbox is good for Suzuka

Well maybe it does.

The team are hoping to sort it out before this weekend's race in Japan. After crashing out on the opening lap in Singapore, both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel ran into further trouble in Malaysia.

While we don't want the biblical rain that washed out the 2009 race, enough to create a real challenge for the drivers on-track and spice up the strategy calls - a bit like the early part of the race in Singapore - would be great to see.

The setbacks arguably deal a costlier blow to Vettel, who is locked in a championship battle with Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton has an all-time record 70 career poles.

In 28 races at Suzuka, the victor has come from the front row on 24 occasions and been on pole in 13.

"I think we have a capricious vehicle that has a very narrow operating window with the tyres".

"We saved a lot of tyres, we can choose the strategy so there's lots of positives", he said. But for sure it's not ideal if you retire one vehicle yesterday and another one today.

"We leave Malaysia with a lot of question marks and we need to find answers to them in the next days".

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

The Mercedes of Hamilton will start from the front in Sepang on Sunday as he looks to increase a 28-point lead over Vettel's Ferrari in the championship fight.

Nearly a month to the day when Lewis Hamilton romped home in Monza to the top spot on the podium in Italy, the Briton's grip on the World Drivers' Championship has merely tightened further after wins in Singapore and second place this past weekend in Kuala Lumpur.

Hamilton also gave Petronas and the Malaysian home fans something to cheer about as he stretched his World Championship advantage to 34 points over second-placed Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

Hamilton came into last year's Suzuka race in a foul mood and seeking solace after raising the possibility of a Mercedes conspiracy against him following an engine fire in Malaysia.

But Hamilton didn't win.

Champions Mercedes have won nine of 15 races this season. The speed was there.

A safety auto or some rain would help his cause, but even in the dry, expect Vettel to be hitting the top six as a minimum. "There are definitely positives in terms of the results we got, but if those guys hadn't taken each other [in Singapore] out I think we could have still won the race because we had good pace in the wet with the characteristics of our vehicle. That's not a big problem if this kind of issue appears in our factory, but it's really ugly when you're in second place on the grid and you can't start the race".

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