Lewis Hamilton: 'I'm preparing for war' at Japanese Grand Prix

The German star looked gutted as he made an early exit from qualifying in Sepang

"I think in the beginning, straight away the vehicle felt good and I saw Lewis struggling a bit with traction and he was clipping a bit more than me, so I used my battery as much as I could and of course he has more to lose than me in the championship so I went for it in Turn 1 and from there I could my own race". "That is the underlying feeling with all of us: We need to understand why we underperform on certain circuits (with) very high temperatures". Raikkonen could well have challenged for a win, given Ferrari's pace and that he qualified in second place.

Ferrari's true pace has been masked at the last two rounds after Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen both crashed out of the Singapore Grand Prix and then had their race weekends ruined by engine problems in Malaysia.

"Having this kind of problem during the race make us angry". Things are looking up on this front as Ferrari said yesterday that they believe Vettel will avoid a penalty for a gearbox change after his cooldown lap collision with Lance Stroll in Malaysia. We saw it on a Friday in Baku, for example, or on a Friday and Saturday in Budapest, where suddenly, when the track rubbers-up on a Sunday, the vehicle comes alive.

I'm interested to see what happens in Suzuka, because in terms of the layout, the circuit is pretty similar to Sepang.

Certainly Ferrari's problems have gifted Hamilton crucial points in the title race, as they have prevented the Maranello-based outfit from pressing the speed advantage they have now held over their German rivals for two weekends in a row.

The Red Bull comes good, and Ferrari miss out again - and what's happening with Mercedes?

"Every point counts", said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. So I just need to get that back and need to get that feeling of enjoying the driving and letting yourself be a bit looser. "There was nothing I could do". Rosberg third and Finish duo of Kimi Raikonnen and Valtteri Bottas finished 4 and 5th on the podium.

Asked to rate his chances of overhauling Hamilton, Vettel said: "We have a chance". The team needs the points, I need the points, I want the points, I want to do much better than this. "Wouldn't it be great if we had Williams back there and McLaren back there and then there would be a real race". "That was partly really good work from the engineers, but also fortunate".

"The next challenge comes in the form of Suzuka, a circuit which will ask very different questions of our auto than Sepang". With him already leading the championship by a large margin and Vettel starting last, Hamilton would have had no reason to take unnecessary risks and compromise that lead. After Alonso went out on the first lap, Vettel took a massive 25-point bite out of his lead.