Vettel expects race improvement at Japanese Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas' penalty means Sebastian Vettel will start alongside Lewis Hamilton on the front row at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel expects an upturn in performance for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix after qualifying third fastest at Suzuka.

The Ferrari driver will start on the front row thanks to a five-place grid penalty for Valtteri Bottas, putting him alongside championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who leads Vettel by 34 points in the drivers' standings.

And, while he ended the session almost half a second down on the Briton, Vettel is encouraged by his chances of closing the gap on his Mercedes rival.

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"I'm pretty happy, to be honest," he said. "The car balance was getting better and better. Obviously, we were lacking a bit of performance but all in all I think it was a positive day.

"I think the car should be a bit better in the race.

"The last run in Q3, I tried a little bit more than there maybe was but I obviously knew the gap behind was quite big and Valtteri wasn't really a threat because he gets the penalty tomorrow [Sunday].

"So I took a bit more risk, didn't work, but still happy with third and then a front row.

"We'll see. I think our starts lately have been quite good. We'll see what we can do."

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