SUZUKA, Japan – official release — Mercedes photo — Lewis Hamilton put his Mercedes entry on the top of the practice charts during a chaotic pair of Formula One practice sessions Friday at the Suzuka Circuit.
Hamilton topped the time sheet with his 1:35.078 lap during the second practice, .240 of a second ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg. The Williams of Valtteri Bottas was the nearest challenger of the Mercedes duo in third, more than one second behind Hamilton with his 1:36.279 lap during the second practice.
McLaren’s Jenson’s Button was right behind Bottas in fourth, fractions ahead of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull in fifth in practice two.
Local favorite Kamui Kobayashi was the first driver to run into trouble during the second practice, losing the rear of his Caterham through the esses and spinning backwards into the barriers – causing damage to the rear suspension and front wing – on only his fourth lap. Soon after Kobayashi’s issues Daniel Ricciardo took his Red Bull round in the fastest time before an odd accident in the final corner. He ran wide on the exit and locked up his tires and slid helplessly through the gravel and into the outer wall.
At first the marshals moved the damaged car further up the hill before Race Control red flagged the session for eight minutes so it could safely be removed and taken back to the pits. At the same time Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso was recovered after it had ground to a halt with technical issues. The Frenchman was able to rejoin the session, but three minutes from the checkered flag he hit further trouble, bringing out the second red flag when he stopped just after 130R.
Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez also crashed, hitting the barriers on the outside of the Spoon Curve soon after he’d switched to the medium tire.
Rosberg edged out Hamilton to set the pace in the first practice session. Rosberg generally had the upper hand throughout the 90 minute session, setting the best time of 1:35.461 to Hamilton’s 1:35.612.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was their closest pursuer at 1:36.037, .727s adrift of Rosberg, while team mate Kimi Raikkonen set the fifth fastest time despite finishing one second further down the time sheet. They were separated by Bottas, who timed in fourth fastest.