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Hamilton: Mercedes F1 car feeling ‘much better’ in Japan than Malaysia

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Lewis Hamilton says his Mercedes W08 Formula 1 car is feeling “much better” in Japan than it was in Malaysia last weekend as he bids to extend his drivers’ championship lead.

Despite taking pole position and finishing second at Sepang, Hamilton struggled for pace throughout the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend, leaving him seeking answers amid concerns Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel could gain the upper hand through the closing races.

Hamilton finished second behind Vettel in FP1 on Friday before leading the FP2 washout and completing just four laps, but was pleased with the running he did complete in the Mercedes car.

“It’s been an interesting day, the car is feeling much better than it was in Malaysia. I’m glad that we had the dry session for FP1,” Hamilton said.

“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.

“The car feels back to normal, so I’m ready to race.”

Hamilton was one of just five drivers to post a lap time in FP2 as heavy rain prompted the bulk of the field to stay in the pits, but the Briton said he was keen give something back to the passionate Japanese fans who braved the weather.

“The fans are pretty special here, to be out there in the rain, waiting for us to go out through the whole of FP2,” Hamilton said.

“That’s also another reason I wanted to go out and at least give them a little bit of a show.

“So hopefully at least they got to see something as not many cars went out.”

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool