Lewis Hamilton admitted that he was much happier following the first day of running at the Suzuka Circuit. Mercedes arrive at the sixteenth round of the world champion with question marks hanging over its head after it failed to impress at Singapore and Malaysia.
At the end of the first practice session, Hamilton ended in second place behind title rival Sebastian Vettel. With the rain affecting the second session of the day, Hamilton ended up on top, albeit being one of only five drivers to set a time.
Despite the lack of running in the afternoon, the Brit felt optimistic after Friday's operations: "It’s been an interesting day, the car is feeling much better than it was in Malaysia," said Hamilton. "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," he added. "The car feels back to normal, so I’m ready to race."
Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas backed up his comments by saying: "As a starting point for the weekend, it definitely feels better than a week ago. My run with the soft tyres was good, but with the super soft, I didn't really gain any grip. So the main thing for me is to understand the super soft performance. The long runs actually weren't too bad, and hopefully we'll see better weather tomorrow."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing