Lando Norris got behind the wheel of Stoffel’s car in FP1 for his third Friday practice outing so far this season. Both he and Fernando worked on set-up of the car and various test items. Apart from a small off for Fernando mid-session which didn’t affect his running, both drivers completed the morning session with no issues. Fernando in 18th and Lando in 20th.
Stoffel returned to his car for FP2 and spent much of the session testing tyre compounds. Both he and Fernando covered a lot of test items on their programmes and had a trouble-free afternoon. Fernando and Stoffel finished in 17th and 20th respectively.
Fernando Alonso: “It’s always nice to be back here. The circuit feels always amazing in these cars and today was good learning. Most of our preparation work today was on next year’s project, so a lot of information to gather about the car.
“Since Hungary, we have basically been using Friday sessions to do some tests to ensure that the car for next season works in the right way. This means it’s a little bit more frustrating in terms of finding the best performance this weekend, but it’s good information for the team – and we’ll see tomorrow where we are.
“The weather will play a big factor tomorrow and some rain would help us, as it looks like in dry conditions we’ll suffer.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “It’s nice to be back in Suzuka. It’s a great circuit to drive on, and one of the best feelings we can have in a Formula 1 car. For me, I only did FP2 so I was getting to grips with the car and the circuit again, and putting the pieces together. We’ll see how everything pans out tomorrow.
“The focus for me was to try out all the tyre compounds today, and maybe tomorrow it will be raining so we’ll see what happens.
“Not being in FP1 gives you a bit of a different approach to the weekend. You have to rely on the data the team has gathered during FP1 even though you haven’t been in the car yourself, so you have to trust the direction they’re going in and go with the learning they have done.”
Lando Norris: “Today was fun. It’s my first time here in Japan and at Suzuka. It’s an awesome track, and probably the one I’ve most looked forward to this season, especially since I got told I was coming here. It’s definitely lived up to its expectations. The whole track is quite unique and especially the first sector – into Degner so Turn Eight and Turn Nine – so I was enjoying it a lot.
“It was a good experience today and I learned the track, so when I come back next year I’ll feel much more comfortable straight away. Today I was testing some different aero things on the car – some for next year and some for this weekend. There’s a lot of things learned from my side and for the team, so it’s been a good day.
“This would be a cool track in a Formula 3 or Formula 2 car, but it wouldn’t be as cool as it is in Formula 1. With the downforce and speeds you have in Formula 1 it’s pretty insane how quick it is. It takes you a few laps to prepare every corner because you don’t have time to react so easily to every left-right. It does take you a bit of time to get used to, but the whole track put together – especially the whole of Sector One and the beginning of Sector Two – makes it one of the best tracks I’ve driven.
“As much as FP1 is preparation for me next year, my job I still to drive well, not make mistakes, give good feedback to the engineers, and improve the car for this weekend and especially for next year. I’m doing all I can to make sure I’m not just enjoying it and having fun, but treating it like it’s my only session to prepare for a qualifying session. It’s about making sure every lap counts and not doing anything stupid.”
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: “Although we don’t look particularly competitive on the timesheets, today was a productive and trouble-free day.
“As usual, we ran through a variety of test items, set-up and tyre options, and collected a lot of data which hopefully will help us make good decisions overnight.
“The weather looks quite unsettled for tomorrow, which could turn qualifying into an exciting and unpredictable show.”