Korea form gives Mercedes optimism for Japan

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Mercedes say their car’s performance in the twisty middle sector in Korea raises their hopes they should be competitive in Japan this weekend.

“Our car was possibly the quickest of all in sector two last weekend, which contained all the medium and high-speed corners,” said executive director Toto Wolff.

“This is promising for Suzuka, where nearly two thirds of the corners are taken in fourth gear or higher, and should see our car perform well on this fantastic track.”

Lewis Hamilton posted the best middle sector time during qualifying in Korea, covering it in 42.599s. However Romain Grosjean’s Lotus and both Red Bulls were within a tenth of a second of him.

“Qualifying showed the pace that we had in the car but we were not able to use it at the right moments of the race,” said Wolff. “We also lost points because of a problem on Nico [Rosberg’s] car and everybody in the team is working hard to get on top of reliability issues like this one.”

However Wolff said he drew a positive from the fast Mercedes “closed the points gap to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship, and it now stands at just a single point”.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”