How Mercedes recovered from Malaysian GP 'disaster'

Mercedes has outlined the reasons it believes were vital in the team's recovery from its Malaysian Grand Prix "disaster", after setting the pace during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Following its struggles in Malaysia and Singapore, Mercedes returned to the top of Formula One's pecking order in Japan, as Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position for Sunday's race. Valtteri Bottas joined Hamilton on the front-row as the team comfortably out-paced rivals Ferrari, but the Finn will drop to sixth on the grid after his gearbox penalty is applied.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff reckons changes to the team's car made in the wake of its performance troubles in Malaysia, coupled with the power-hungry nature of the Suzuka circuit and cooler temperatures, all played a key role in the reigning world champions' return to form in Japan.

"We have a motto in our company and in our team that is that the bad days are the days that our competition will regret," Wolff said. "The bad days make you progress more, and there was some learning and we changed the car for Suzuka," Wolff said. "We put it on the track and it was pretty solid, straight from the get-go. We learned a lot in Malaysia and looked at the data, analysed it.

"We found ways where we thought we could optimise the car's setup and it proved to be the right direction. Nevertheless it doesn't solve the underlying issue that there are big swings, not only for us but also for other teams. Others who were competitive in Malaysia were a second off today."

However, Wolff remains wary about the threat from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel -- who shares the front-row alongside Hamilton -- with warmer weather conditions forecast for Sunday's grand prix.

"We have become a little bit of rain dancers, or wishing for cold weather. The heat is something that made us struggle in Singapore and Malaysia, so it plays a role in our thinking and it is certainly not optimal for our car if it were very hot."

Hamilton, who said his W08 felt "back to normal" following Friday practice, dominated throughout qualifying and broke the circuit lap record three times on his way to securing his first-ever pole at Suzuka.

"The car is a lot different this weekend and a lot more enjoyable to drive," he explained. "Last weekend was a bit of a disaster but we still got pole, which was unusual."

When asked if the team understood why it was able to improve this weekend, Hamilton added: "We have an idea. There's a lot of analysis that's gone in to understanding it, so I think we do understand, yes.

"It's not something we can particularly rapidly change, but we're in a cooler climate here, so that's definitely one thing that adds to it."