Mercedes on top in wet Japanese GP FP2

Sam Bloxham/Motorsport Images

Mercedes on top in wet Japanese GP FP2

Formula 1

Mercedes on top in wet Japanese GP FP2


Mercedes teammates George Russell and Lewis Hamilton dominated wet second practice at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Russell and Hamilton were among the most prolific lap-setters in what was otherwise — like the first practice earlier in the day –a low-mileage session in conditions not expected to be replicated on Saturday or Sunday. They set 45 laps between them, around two-thirds the number that would be expected to be set in second practice around Suzuka.

The number is particularly low considering the session was extended by 30 minutes to allow for time to test Pirelli’s 2023-spec tires. However, as only the dry compounds were set to be sampled, the test was cancelled, albeit without shortening the track program.

It made for a very leisurely FP2, with Russell eventually emerging 0.235s quicker than Hamilton at the end of the day.

The Mercedes car struggled with tire warmup in similar conditions in Singapore but appeared to have no such trouble in Japan, where the next-closest car was driven by Max Verstappen and 0.851s off the pace. He was closely matched by teammate Sergio Perez, who was 0.048s further back despite a trip through the gravel at the hairpin.

Verstappen reported problems managing tire temperatures, particularly his fronts, in a problem that only got further away from him as the session went on.

“All the tires are ****, no grip,” he radioed towards the end of practice as the rubber began to give up.

Kevin Magnussen was a late improver as one of the few drivers on track in the final 15 minutes to put himself fifth and 1.2s off the pace.

Carlos Sainz followed for Ferrari and spent among the most time of any driver on track. He noted that degradation on the intermediate compound moved from front to rear as the session progressed, though he completed all but six of his 23 laps on a single set of already used inters.

Fernando Alonso, who topped the earlier practice session, was seventh ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with their respective teammates completing the top 10, with Esteban Ocon ahead of Zhou Guanyu.

Charles Leclerc was fortunate to make it to the end of the session after locking up and running through the gravel at the hairpin, where he came just inches from breaking his front wing against the barrier.

Nicholas Latifi was 12th after 16 laps and after having committed one of the session’s strangest errors by making a wrong turn into the final chicane. The Canadian turned left too early and took a road used for an alternative configuration of the track to find himself facing a wall. He lit up his rear tires to rotate himself towards the exit and radioed his team about something strange happening to his car.

Williams teammate Alex Albon was 13th ahead of home favorite Yuki Tsunoda, who endured the afternoon’s riskiest off with a fast excursion through the gravel at Degner, though he managed to keep his car away from the barriers and return to the action.

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel was 15th ahead of McLaren teammates Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, who were around four seconds off the pace in 16th and 17th, with Lance Stroll and Pierre Gasly following.

Mick Schumacher never left his garage after crashing his car at the end of FP1, with the damage necessitating a chassis change to the German’s car.

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