After his second place in Malaysia, where Vettel could only manage fourth, Hamilton leads the German by 34 points in the world championship, extending it further on Sunday with only four races remaining would leave Vettel with a mountain to climb in the title fight. However, it was his second victory in F1 after 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. I think he is a nice third option for you in tonight's race.
Hamilton once again led the field out once the track opened for the business of the pole shoot-out.
"The track was fantastic and the team did an incredible job".
When asked if the team understood why it was able to improve this weekend, Hamilton added: "We have an idea".
While third practice session was washed out by rain, Hamilton started Q1 on a good note clocking 1:29.047s, followed by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen (1:29.163s) and Malaysia GP victor Max Verstappen (1:29.181s).
Red Bull won in Malaysia as Max Verstappen took the chequered flag and could still play a part in the championship shake-up here.
Vettel suffered the agony of another retirement on Sunday as his Formula One title hopes disappeared nearly over the horizon.
Mercedes struggled for speed at both grands prix, though, with the reigning champions only the third fastest team on both occasions, and yesterday's rain-hit practice offered few clues as to whether the team had rediscovered its lost pace.
"[The car] felt okay but obviously when I had to push I made a mistake on first run in last qualifying". Bottas was just 0.014s clear of teammate Lewis Hamilton - also on the softs - while the rest of the field used the supersoft but could not match the Mercedes pair.
But all was clearly not well, with Ferrari mechanics hurriedly changing the car's spark plug as the seconds ticked away.
He was finally called in to the pits: "Box, Sebastian, box".
"The bad days makes you progress more, and there was some learning and we changed the vehicle for Suzuka", said Wolff.
Vettel gave his fading title hopes a boost with a lightning late dash in the morning as the rain began to fall.
He is now with the Red Bull team and his contract will run down at the end of the next year.
Vettel was happy to be on the front row after starting the Malaysia GP from the back of the grid and working his way up to a fourth-place finish. The second was even quicker as he proved utterly dominant on a circuit where he has never been on pole.
With warmer weather predicted for Sunday's race in Japan, Wolff said he was mindful that things could yet swing towards Ferrari.
"It was a good day", said the Quebecers 18 years of age.
Vettel's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished fifith behind Mercedes' Bottas.