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Hamilton fastest in Japan

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Hamilton fastest in Japan

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SUZUKA, Japan (AP) – Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, edging teammate and Formula One rival Nico Rosberg today.

Hamilton’s time of one minute, 35.078 seconds shortly after the halfway mark of the afternoon practice at the Suzuka circuit was 0.240 seconds ahead of Rosberg.

“The gap changes from track to track between us and other cars but it looks pretty good so far,” Hamilton said. “To come here at one of the most demanding tracks for downforce, and to be that competitive, is fantastic.”

Hamilton leads Rosberg by three points heading into Sunday’s race, having won the past two races. Neither driver has ever won at Suzuka.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas was third fastest, followed by McLaren’s Jenson Button.

A powerful typhoon is approaching Japan but isn’t projected to hit the region until Monday. Rain is still in the forecast for race day.

“Qualifying is going to be very important as it’s quite difficult to overtake here,” Hamilton said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather; it’s such a challenging circuit but we always come to the weekend prepared for everything.”