Lewis Hamilton makes prediction after Toto Wolff’s claim proven wrong

Sir Lewis Hamilton has claimed victory at the Japanese Grand Prix five times, and Mercedes have won every race at Suzuka since 2014.

Despite Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff being concerned that the Japanese Grand Prix would be a difficult weekend for the team, the opening day has been anything but the sort.

The Silver Arrows astonishingly claimed a one-two in FP2, with George Russell topping the wet session with Sir Lewis Hamilton in second.

FP1 was more challenging for the seven-time World Champion, who was P13 after the morning session which saw the vast majority of the running on the full Wet tyres.

Whilst Hamilton looked good in the miserable conditions, it could prove to be somewhat meaningless.

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Qualifying is forecast to be dry, whereas the weather for the race continues to show a very mixed picture.

Regardless, ending the day towards the top has left Hamilton optimistic of a potentially strong weekend, on the back of crashing at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The 37-year-old has silenced Mercedes’ chances of victory, though, with Red Bull and Ferrari predicted to be “quite quick” if it’s dry Saturday and Sunday.

“We got through a bit of running, but I think it’s going to be dry for the rest of the weekend,” he said.

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“If we get it to the dry I imagine the Ferraris and Red Bulls will be quite quick.”

Friday saw teams running varied schedules, with some running less than others due to a fear of the limited availability of the Intermediate and full Wet tyres.

Whilst the weekend may be dry, there is still some very positive data that the Brackley-based team can take into the final rounds of the season.

Hamilton found it much easier to “switch” his tyres on, something which has been a massive disadvantage for the reigning Constructors’ Champions this season.

With this in mind, the 103-time GP winner is hoping that he’s “fast” for the remainder of the weekend but has “no idea” what will happen.

“On the positive side we were able to switch our tyres on today so we didn’t look slow, so that’s good,” Hamilton said after FP2.

“I really have no idea,” he added when asked about his prospects for the rest of the weekend.

“I hope that we’re fast but that’s a hope that continues to be the case each week.

“There’s always things to be taken.

“There’s always something useful to learn on set-up, tyre wear and temperatures, as well as moving around the car balance between the sessions.

“There’s definitely things to take from it and there is data on downforce loads and what wing level everyone else is on.”

This weekend is, of course, Formula 1’s first visit to Japan since 2019, following the havoc caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Suzuka has always been a driver favourite with the track being “beautiful to drive”, with Hamilton having achieved an impressive four victories at the legendary venue (his other Japanese GP victory came at Fuji).

His first of those actually came in 2014 during his second World Championship winning season, with his most recent being in 2018.

The track has been present for some iconic battles and legendary drivers, none bigger than Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

The pair famously took each other out on the first corner of the 1990 Grand Prix and did so previously at the 1989 Japanese GP, two incidents that are still shown on repeat during broadcasters’ Japanese GP coverage.

Hamilton finds it “always special” to drive around a circuit which boasts so much history, something he hails as a “privilege”.

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“This track is just beautiful to drive and it’s great to see the fans here again, and it will be even more fun in the dry,” he said.

“When you do your first lap of the weekend, it’s always special to think of all the legends that have been here.

“Then you come up to the last chicane or turn one, thinking of Senna and Prost, and you realise what a privilege it is to drive at a place that has had so much history.”