Ferrari and Red Bull should head into the rest of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend with quiet confidence. Despite the fact Mercedes yet again finished Friday practice one-two on the timesheet, its two main Formula 1 rivals of recent times look very much still in the hunt.
In theory Mercedes should utterly dominate at Suzuka, like it has done the past two F1 seasons. It was fastest easily over one lap in Malaysia, and even more time is spent at full throttle at Suzuka than Sepang, which theoretically favours Mercedes' engine advantage even more.
But Mercedes has to be cautious with the way it runs its power units here, particularly with regard to the oil. Lewis Hamilton's spectacular engine blow-up while leading comfortably in Malaysia last weekend, now traced to the failure of a big-end bearing in the crankshaft following a loss of oil pressure, understandably makes the manufacturer nervous.