Mercedes' Brit driver is fastest in second practice session, ahead of teammate Rosberg
Suzuka: Lewis Hamilton ended the opening day of running for the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix fastest after deposing Mercedes teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg from the top of the timesheets in the second session of Friday practice.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton drives during practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit yesterday. Pic/Getty Images.
Hamilton’s time in the post-lunch session was one minute 35.078, over two-tenths of a second quicker than Rosberg’s best in the session.
The German had set the fastest time ahead of Hamilton in the morning and his afternoon effort, though short of his teammate’s benchmark, capped a dominant day for the German marque who could claim the constructors’ championship this weekend.
Valtteri Bottas was third fastest in his Williams after having set the fourth-quickest time in the opening 90 minutes of running. McLaren’s Jenson Button, who regards the Japanese Grand Prix as a second home race, followed the Williams by setting the fourth fastest time in his McLaren ahead of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen ended the day as the lead Ferrari outpacing teammate Fernando Alonso, who fuelled speculation about his future on Thursday by refusing to rule out leaving the sport’s glamour team as soon as next season. The double-world champion had been the third-quickest driver in the morning only to slip back to seventh at the end of the day.
After an uneventful opening 90 minutes of practice, the challenging high speed sweeps of the Suzuka circuit caught several drivers out in the afternoon, with red flags halting the session twice.
The threat of rain also brooded over Suzuka with a light drizzle falling on the circuit after a sunny start to the day. Home hero Kamui Kobayashi and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo ended their sessions in the barriers while several other drivers ran out wide over the run off as they tested the limits of the unique figure-of-eight layout.
Max Verstappen made history yesterday when, just 17 years on from his birthday, he became the youngest-ever driver to participate in a Grand Prix weekend.
The Dutchman, set to replace Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso next season, took the Frenchman’s seat for the opening session and acquitted himself well, completing 22 laps in total before engine trouble brought a smoky end to his outing.