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Lewis Hamilton leads the way after incident packed day one in Suzuka

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Lewis Hamilton leads the way after incident packed day one in Suzuka
Oct 3, 2014, 11:00 AM

Lewis Hamilton began his latest bid for a first ever win in Suzuka in fine style as he led a Mercedes one-two at the end of Friday’s incident-pa...

Lewis Hamilton began his latest bid for a first ever win in Suzuka in fine style as he led a Mercedes one-two at the end of Friday’s incident-packed second practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The world championship leader edged team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.240s and both Mercedes drivers can draw extra comfort from the knowledge that neither produced their optimum single-lap performance on the softer medium compound tyre.

Rosberg’s second fastest time included a missed apex at the chicane, while Hamilton had a lurid tank-slapper at Degner on his first flyer on fresh medium Pirellis, but managed to control the car and recorded his best time on the following lap.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Japanese Grand Prix - Practice Day - Suzuka, Japan

"The gap changes from track to track between us and other cars but it looks pretty good so far this weekend. To come here at one of the most demanding tracks for downforce and to be that competitive is fantastic," said Hamilton.

Mercedes enjoyed a big advantage over the rest of the field and Rosberg was extremely positive about prospects for the weekend, "That was a very, very good day for us," he said. "Thank you to the team for this great car, we are

very quick on one lap and also on high fuel levels. My long run was very good this afternoon, so I'm quite confident for a good race here."

Both Friday sessions were run on a dry track though dark clouds and the briefest sprinkle of rain towards the end of the second session served as a portent of what is expected later in the weekend with heavy rain forecast for Sunday.

Behind the flying Mercedes duo, Valtteri Bottas was best of the rest, his Williams 1.2s behind Hamilton. With Williams bringing a number of developments including new front wing, Felipe Massa ended the day 14th and complaining of understeer on both medium and hard compound tyres.

McLaren looked stronger with 2011 Japanese GP winner Jenson Button got the weekend off to a solid start for McLaren with fourth fastest, just over a tenth of a second behind Bottas and three tenths of a second ahead of eighth placed Kevin Magnussen.

Four-time winner in Suzuka Sebastian Vettel ended the day fifth for Red Bull, just over 1.3 seconds behind Hamilton and less than three hundredths behind Button on a drama-free day for the world champion.

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Japanese Grand Prix - Practice Day - Suzuka, Japan

By contrast, Daniel Ricciardo had an afternoon to forget. The Australian vaulted to the top of the timesheets ahead of Bottas after 15 minutes but soon after made an uncharacteristic error on the exit of the final bend as he wound up for a flying lap.

Allowing his tyres to cool too much on an outlaw, he got out of shape as he hit the throttle on the exit of the chicane, his Red Bull fishtailed into the barrier on the left and out of the running. His car was then deposited by the safety crew in an unsafe position near the chicane which brought the red flags out for eight minutes.

Kimi Raikkonen edged his unsettled Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso for sixth by a little over a tenth of a second on a quiet afternoon for the Maranello squad.

Toro Rosso ended the day ninth and 11th with Daniel Kvyat just over two tenths of a second faster than Jean Eric Vergne, on a day of contrasting fortunes. Kvyat ended FP1 four tenths faster than teenage rookie Max Verstappen whose impressive debut ended with an engine failure.

Toro Rosso worked wonders to get Vergne out shortly after the start of FP2 but the Frenchman was soon stranded at trackside again. The team got the car back to the garage and Vergne returned in time to complete 19 laps before it failed again for a third time, bringing out the red flag that would end the session.

Niko Hulkenberg was the faster of the two Force India’s in 12th, .282s faster and three positions ahead of Sergio Perez.

Romain Grosjean hustled his Lotus to 13th fastest, .235s faster than 16th fastest team mate Pastor Maldonado who is facing a ten-place grid penalty after taking a sixth engine of the year.

Adrian Sutil ended the day one place ahead of Esteban Guttierez on the time sheet, though he managed 25 laps to the Mexican nine, the latter, ending his day after less than 40 minutes of FP2 when he crashed at Spoon.

Shrugging off the difficulties back at home Caterham had looked strong in FP1 but things took a turn for the worse at the start of FP2 when Kamui Kobayashi, back in the car used by test and reserve Roberto Merhi in the morning, lost the rear at turn two on his second flying lap.

The resultant impact tore the front wing off and put unwanted extra strain on the team’s spare parts bin. Nonetheless  Marcus Ericsson finished day one ahead of both Marussias by just over two tenths of a second with Ferrari hopeful Jules Bianchi less than two hundredths ahead of Max Chilton.

Japanese Grand Prix Free Practice 2

1

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes

1m35.078s

-

28

2

Nico Rosberg

Mercedes

1m35.318s

0.240s

27

3

Valtteri Bottas

Williams

1m36.279s

1.201s

24

4

Jenson Button

McLaren

1m36.409s

1.331s

28

5

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull

1m36.436s

1.358s

24

6

Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

1m36.529s

1.451s

19

7

Fernando Alonso

Ferrari

1m36.637s

1.559s

26

8

Kevin Magnussen

McLaren

1m36.714s

1.636s

31

9

Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso

1m36.943s

1.865s

27

10

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull

1m37.186s

2.108s

3

11

Jean-Eric Vergne

Toro Rosso

1m37.219s

2.141s

19

12

Nico Hulkenberg

Force India

1m37.504s

2.426s

16

13

Romain Grosjean

Lotus

1m37.563s

2.485s

31

14

Felipe Massa

Williams

1m37.700s

2.622s

18

15

Sergio Perez

Force India

1m37.786s

2.708s

8

16

Pastor Maldonado

Lotus

1m37.798s

2.720s

27

17

Adrian Sutil

Sauber

1m38.010s

2.932s

25

18

Esteban Gutierrez

Sauber

1m38.365s

3.287s

9

19

Marcus Ericsson

Caterham

1m39.069s

3.991s

22

20

Jules Bianchi

Marussia

1m39.306s

4.228s

20

21

Max Chilton

Marussia

1m39.333s

4.255s

24

22

Kamui Kobayashi

Caterham

1m42.760s

7.682s

3

 
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