Hamilton proved particularly popular with a group of Japanese schoolchildren, all clamouring for a picture with the Stevenage-born racer. Stroll, to the interior, then struck the left wing of the auto scarlet of the quadruple world champion, sending him flying further down the track. And yet it took just 24 hours for the picture to change when one title contender outperformed his machinery and the other didn't get the chance to.
There are five races left on the calendar, with Japan followed by races in USA, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
But Hamilton reverted to the previous-specification ahead of qualifying and went on to secure pole before finishing second, while team-mate Valtteri Bottas said he regretted sticking with the update after winding up fifth in qualifying.
"I don't know if I have as good a word as that".
"There are so many points available and you have seen other years where things swing", Hamilton added.
When is the Japanese Grand Prix?
"It's only been a couple of days, so parts went back to understand and get a full picture but I'm pretty sure here shouldn't be an issue".
Power unit dramas on Saturday meant that Vettel started the race from last on the grid, but a determined drive saw him climb to a fourth-place finish before the incident with Stroll.
Since F1's summer break, Red Bull have closed the gap considerably to the leading two teams, and with five races remaining, Verstappen hopes luck will be on his side. About 30-40% of our engineers are Japanese, so we have a big moment of the year.
Twenty-four hours after having celebrated its 20th birthday, Verstappen has shown once more the extent of his talent by performing an overrun remarkable at the expense of Hamilton into turn no. 4.
In truth, if Red Bull can keep up their pace here and in succeeding races, the real fight might just be starting.
"I am still optimistic, because we know that we have a quick auto", said Vettel, who almost snatched third from Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo.
"Sebastian did a great job in Malaysia, but I do not think it will be enough", he said.
Marchionne said the current team was still comparatively young and finding its way, after a restructuring last year, even if Ferrari had been around for 70 years.
"Since 1999 I have never missed to see the F1 race and I still remember when I was forced to climb high in high temperatures in order to support my favorite team".