Lewis finished FP1 on top of the time sheets with Valtteri just behind in P2. Lewis also put in the fastest lap in the afternoon with Valtteri in P2. The team focused on general balance work and comparing the different tyre compounds for Suzuka.
Lewis Hamilton: Every time we come to Suzuka, particularly over the last few years, the cars just get faster and faster, it’s incredible. They don’t make tracks like this anymore – there’s very little room for runoff, a little touch of the grass and you’re off in the wall. Suzuka has to be one of my favourite circuits, if not the favourite one, it’s very cool. Especially the first and second sectors are insane, the first section is the best roller coaster ride that I’ve felt in a Formula One car. The balance was in quite a nice place, so I was just enjoying it. Every year I come back, there are always areas that I can improve, so I was like “There are two or three corners where I know that I need to kill it this year” and I got straight up to it. I was much better than I had ever been through those particular corners. Now I just have to stay on it, keep working; my team and I, we’re working so well together in fine-tuning this car. I’m just loving driving more than ever; when you get in the car, it’s just the best, it’s so fast and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I do. I’ve just been giving thanks all day today because this is what I’ve always wanted to do.
Valtteri Bottas: It’s always good fun in Suzuka, this is such an enjoyable track to drive. The car also felt quite good, although for me it was better in FP1 than in FP2. We have a full night ahead to investigate all the changes we made and find the right set-up. But overall the car felt pretty good throughout all sectors, I just had some balance issues, struggling a bit with understeer. Overall it’s a good starting point for the weekend, but it’s hard to say where we stand in relation to the others. It always gets more intense in Qualifying, so we’re going to work just as hard as usual to find all the improvements we can. The weather is likely to change tomorrow, so it was good for everyone that we had a dry Friday because it’s supposed to be dry on Sunday as well. It’s also going to be a lot warmer in the race, so that will be different, but at least we got enough running already in dry conditions, so it doesn’t matter if it’s wet tomorrow. Even in the dry it’s very easy to make mistakes on this track; one small mistake and you’re off. In the wet, it’s ten times more difficult; Suzuka is one of the most challenging tracks in the wet. The track becomes much more unpredictable, especially when it rains hard or if there is standing water. So if Qualifying is wet tomorrow, it should be very interesting.
Andrew Shovlin: It’s been a fairly straightforward day and happily the conditions stayed dry which allowed us to complete all the usual race preparation work. Both drivers are quite happy with the balance and the pace seems reasonably strong. However, it looks like we could face quite different conditions in qualifying and race. We’re expecting some rain overnight and the wind looks strong tomorrow which could make things tricky for the drivers in qualifying. Then for Sunday we’re expecting hot and sunny conditions. We’ve got good data on the tyres from today but it is never easy to predict exactly how they will behave on a much warmer track. The headline times from today do flatter us but we can still find some time working on the balance both on a single lap and a long run.