Hamilton: Car ‘night and day different’ between Suzuka FP3 and qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton says he was “really happy” with second place on the grid for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix after making radical changes to the setup on his Mercedes that made the car “night and day different”.

Hamilton arrived in Japan trailing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 23 points in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship after retiring last weekend when leading the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Hamilton lagged behind Rosberg through all three practice sessions, with the gap of half a second in FP3 hinting that qualifying may be a foregone conclusion.

Hamilton fought back though, topping Q3 early on to take provisional pole before Rosberg went 0.013 seconds faster on his final lap to take P1 away.

Despite missing out on pole, Hamilton was content with second and the changes made to his car after final practice.

“I’m happy with the job I did, that’s all I can say. I did the best I could,” Hamilton told NBCSN.

“I got to FP2, was getting closer ,then made some changes to the car when we got to FP3 and it was a disaster.

“Then I had to make a big, big change going into qualifying and the car was completely different, it was like night and day different.

“You only had three or four laps, so to have done four laps and managed to get back that close, I’m really happy.”

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 12am ET on Sunday.