This now leaves Vettel 34 points behind front-runner Lewis Hamilton, as well as leaving Ferrari a huge 118 points adrift of leaders Mercedes in the Constructors' Championship.
"Nobody can promise that it won't happen again, but I really doubt that it will happen again". "There is stuff that has been happening through the weekend that is not acceptable for this great team".
Hamilton has won twice before at Suzuka, and three times in Japan when Fuji is included in the reckoning, while Mercedes are unbeaten there in three years. "The vehicle is feeling much better than it was in Malaysia".
"There are a lot of question marks generally which we need to assess", said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
Both drivers were wiped out on the first lap of the Singapore Grand Prix, and in Malaysia, a problem with the engine prevented Vettel from completing a timed lap in qualifying and Raikkonen from taking the start in the race.
Mercedes were slower than Ferrari and Red Bull for the second successive race in Malaysia after similarly struggling for pace in Singapore.
Next up was Max Verstappen, victor for Red Bull last time out in Malaysia, who took a trip over the dirt before a red flag stopped the session with just under half of the 90 minutes remaining.
Hamilton switched to the team's new aerodynamic package for Friday's practice and, after finishing second behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel in a dry first practice, he said his vehicle felt competitive again.
Daniel Ricciardo put his vehicle third, just over 0.1seconds behind Hamilton with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen fourth.
Verstappen's sizzling performance in Malaysia suggests he may have turned the corner after retiring from seven of the first 15 races this season. It's a matter of who does a little bit more than the others.
However, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne has ordered the team to fix the reliability problems that sabotaged their race in Malaysia.
"This kind of problem makes us angry".
But both he and Hamilton also have to contend with a resurgent Red Bull.
There could be a further twist for Ferrari at the high-speed Japanese circuit as the German faces a possible five-place grid penalty if he needs a new gearbox after a collision with Lance Stroll's Williams following Sunday's race.
Sunday's race will also be Honda's last home grand prix as power unit suppliers to McLaren, with the Japanese manufacturer set to tie up with Toro Rosso next year.
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