The Finn will want to prove he deserved a contract extension for next year with a strong performance in Japan, while his team-mate Hamilton will aim to dent Vettel's title hopes still further by beating him in a race he has won twice in three years.
Vettel had started in last place after a power unit problem in qualifying but worked his way up to fourth in a performance that emphasised the car's pace and what might have been; Hamilton was second.
With Hamilton finishing second, Vettel saw the gap at the top of the drivers' standings grow to 34 points with five races remaining, the next taking place at Suzuka in one week's time. "For his driving, we more or less agree with the other drivers, it's 19 to one", he told reporters. However, it is promising to see the auto is good, even if both Kimi and I hit trouble. But Hamilton and his team acknowledged that in race pace they had ultimately been behind Red Bull and Ferrari.
"We still have work to do but I think it is a fundamental issue with this actual year's vehicle and we will try and improve it". But there's nothing we can do, it's the way the vehicle is.
"So far we had a pretty good record this year for reliability".
"I'd rather have qualified in first place", he said after qualifying, "but I think tomorrow is a long race, it's going to be tough for tires and I think we should have a very good vehicle tomorrow".
With less than 10 minutes before qualifying, Ferrari's mechanics hurriedly wheeled the Finnish driver's auto back to the garage.
'There might be conflicts of interest, which I'm not saying he has in any way abused, but there should be some kind of ethical policy that we all follow.
"I think we have a capricious vehicle that has a very narrow operating window with the tyres".
To add (car) injury to what had already been a frustrating weekend for Ferrari, Vettel tangled with Williams driver Lance Stroll on the cool down lap.
Vettel started from the back of the grid after engine problems on Saturday, while Raikkonen did not start at all. Obviously this weekend we did not. It was a sort of reflex [to take the steering wheel]. "I just went for it and used all the battery power I could to get past him". Because I couldn't put it on I thought I might as well take it with me just to make sure.
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