Lewis Hamilton and George Russell downplay Mercedes' strong performance in wet practice ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

In a wet second practice session in Suzuka, George Russell led a Mercedes one-two from Lewis Hamilton; the British duo downplayed their performance with dry conditions expected on Saturday; watch Qualifying live on dramacoolbd F1 from 6 a.m. on Saturday.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell have admitted that they are unsure whether Mercedes' impressive performance in Practice Two will carry over to the rest of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Russell's 1:41.935 led a one-two from teammate Hamilton by two tenths in Friday's second session on a drying track, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen more than 0.8s off Russell's time in third.

While Mercedes performed well in the rain, dry conditions are expected for Saturday's final practice and qualifying, with showers possible for the race on Sunday.

Russell leads Hamilton one-two as the Mercs shine in wet conditions.
When is the Japanese Grand Prix on Sky Sports F1?
Verstappen's chances of becoming world champion in Japan

"I'm not sure what to expect for tomorrow (Saturday)," Hamilton said.

"I have no idea; if it gets dry, I imagine the Ferraris and Red Bulls will be quick, but I have no idea.

"I hope we're quick, but that's something I keep hoping for each week.

"On the plus side, we were able to put our tyres on today, so we didn't appear slow, which was nice."

Mercedes has yet to win a race this season, despite being the eight-time reigning constructors' champions, while Verstappen can seal his second world championship by winning and setting the fastest lap.

Hamilton had a run of five consecutive podium finishes before retiring in Belgium, then finishing fourth and fifth in the Netherlands and Italy before finishing ninth in Singapore last weekend.

Russell: The final practice session will be crucial.

Russell recovered admirably from a disastrous weekend in Singapore, where he finished outside the points for only the second time in his first Mercedes season.

However, the 24-year-old expressed a similar sentiment to Hamilton, claiming that topping the standings on Friday would not be worth much.

When asked about his qualifying expectations, Russell said, "No idea because we think it's going to be dry tomorrow."

"I believe we'll be fighting for the top six spots as always." I hope we have a chance at something better, but I honestly don't know.

"We'll have to see what happens in FP3 - that will be a critical session for everyone."

"There's a chance of rain on Sunday, but it looks pretty dry tomorrow; nonetheless, it's always nice to end the day at the top of the timesheet."

"We definitely improved from FP1 when we were at the bottom of the timesheets."

Button is excited for the qualifying 'fight.'

F1 commentator Jenson Button believes Mercedes will be highly competitive if rain causes intermediate tyres to be used in Sunday's race.

The abrasive nature of the Suzuka track, which is hosting an F1 race for the first time since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, appeared to help Mercedes in a couple of ways.

It first allowed them to overcome their issues with tyre heating, and then Red Bull and Ferrari appeared to struggle more severely with degradation.

"There's a lot of degradation on those inters, and I think the Mercedes' pace comes from later in the stint, when they're able to bang in some really quick laps," Button explained.

"Race pace for them is good, consistency will be good because the degradation is very good with that car, but qualifying will most likely be in the dry."

"So it's a tricky one, but it's really interesting to see how fast they were compared to the field."

Despite his confidence in Mercedes, Button warned that Red Bull and Ferrari could be out of reach in the dry conditions on Saturday.

"It's a fast-flowing circuit, and Red Bull is great in fast corners," he added. "Max (Verstappen) likes it a little on the nose, he likes a twitchy car that's perfect for a circuit like Suzuka."

"If it's dry, Ferrari will also be there." (Charles) Leclerc is always good at pulling out [a lap] in qualifying, particularly in Q3. I'm looking forward to the fight tomorrow."