Japanese GP: Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat sets fastest time

Suzuka (Japan): Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat set the fastest time ahead of the two Mercedes at the end of a rain-drenched opening day of practice that offered few clues regarding the competitive order for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Kvyat lapped the 5.8-kilometer long Suzuka circuit in one minute 48.277 seconds, two-hundredths of a second quicker than Nico Rosberg. Reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton was third, half a second off Kvyat’s pace.

Daniil Kvyat. Pic/ Getty Images

Laptimes were meaningless, however, on a day of limited running that did not shed light on whether the problems suffered by Mercedes in Singapore had carried over into this weekend.

The world champions suffered a mysterious lack of pace in last week’s race at the Marina Bay street circuit which allowed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to take an assured third win of the season. Rosberg could only manage a distant fourth while Hamilton, who was also off the pace, failed to finish.

The Briton continues to lead the standings, however, by a narrower albeit still comfortable 41 points from team-mate Rosberg. Vettel, meanwhile, stays third but is now just eight points off Rosberg after making major inroads into the Mercedes duo’s lead following his Singapore win.

It was already raining by the time the first 90-minute session got underway on Friday and most drivers were content to notch up nothing more than a few tentative exploratory laps, their cars trailing plumes of spray as they felt their way around the lap.

Both Lotus cars also headed out, for a sole installation lap, with the team doing a remarkable job to get the cars ready to run after the squad’s freight was late in arriving on Thursday due to a delay in payments. The team, however, remained locked out of its hospitality hut in the Suzuka paddock.

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