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How Ferrari threw away another golden victory chance
Ferrari turned around Mercedes' early advantage at Suzuka and should have been able to use its front row sweep to control the Japanese Grand Prix even with a race pace disadvantage - but it let things slip away, again
The mood in Ferrari's camp after Friday practice at Suzuka was somewhat downbeat. Having finished 0.356 seconds off the pace, in a session that doubled up as a back-up for qualifying due to Typhoon Hagibis forcing cancellation of the Japanese Grand Prix's Saturday running, Charles Leclerc – Ferrari's form man since the August break – declared Ferrari to be lacking grip, saying his deficit to the Silver Arrows was "more or less the real picture of the weekend".
Except it turned out to be far from the real picture. Yes, Mercedes ultimately won the race – the team's 12th victory in 17 races – thanks to Valtteri Bottas nailing the start and Sebastian Vettel fluffing his, but that result misrepresents the true picture of Sunday in Japan.
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