Japanese GP: Bottas leads Mercedes 1-2 in FP1
Valtteri Bottas set the pace as Mercedes dominated the opening practice session for Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Mercedes started the session with a seven-lap run on medium tyres as most teams sought to make the most of the dry track running.
Saturday’s final hour-long practice and qualifying sessions have been cancelled out of precaution amid the threat of Typhoon Hagibis. That has left teams with only Friday’s 90-minute sessions to prepare, and FP2 is at risk of being compromised by rain.
Hamilton set the early pace on the initial runs on mediums, posting a 1m30.832s, although by the halfway point of the session Bottas had moved to the front on a 1m30.524s.
In the second half of FP1 teams switched to soft-tyre running, with Ferrari the first to do so.
That allowed Vettel to hold top spot, briefly, but his 1m29.720s was quickly eclipsed by both Mercedes drivers.
Hamilton toppled Vettel with a 1m28.807s before Bottas went even faster, setting a 1m28.731s.
No further improvements left the Mercedes duo well clear as only Vettel managed a time within a second of the leader.
Verstappen’s early pace was not as strong as expected for the home race of Red Bull engine partner Honda, with teammate Alex Albon three tenths slower in sixth.
They were not far clear of the leading midfield cars, which were headed by Carlos Sainz. The McLaren driver finished the session seventh, 1.9s slower than Bottas, and just ahead of the Racing Point of Sergio Perez.
Nico Hulkenberg was only 13th in the best of the upgraded Renaults, which were completing aero assessments through FP1.
F1 debutant Naoki Yamamoto was a solid 17th and only 0.1s slower than regular Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat.
The Honda-backed reigning Super Formula and SUPER GT champion completed 30 laps, more than anyone, on his maiden grand prix weekend appearance at his home race. Pierre Gasly will reclaim his Toro Rosso seat for FP2.
|5||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||Honda||22||1'30.046||1.315|
|6||23||Alex Albon||Red Bull||Honda||24||1'30.375||1.644|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren||Renault||21||1'30.702||1.971|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Racing Point||Mercedes||21||1'30.810||2.079|
|9||18||Lance Stroll||Racing Point||Mercedes||27||1'30.959||2.228|
|12||7||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari||27||1'31.307||2.576|
|16||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Honda||23||1'31.920||3.189|
|17||38||Naoki Yamamoto||Toro Rosso||Honda||30||1'32.018||3.287|
|20||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||Ferrari||4||1'36.887||8.156|
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