FP1: Hamilton tops Mercedes 1-2 at Suzuka

Date published: October 5 2018

Lewis Hamilton set the pace in Friday’s first practice for the Japanese GP, over four-tenths quicker than his nearest rival, Valtteri Bottas.

There were some concerns about McLaren and Renault in the build-up to the race weekend as their Castrol oil was held up in customs due to a backlog of flights delayed by typhoons.

The good news on Friday morning was that it had arrived safely at the circuit with both teams breaking curfew on Thursday night.

Daniel Ricciardo was the first to set a lap time, a 1:30.651 for the Red Bull driver.

Sebastian Vettel took over at the front on the supersoft tyres but lost out to Valtteri Bottas. The Finn, using the soft tyres, clocked a 1:29.824 ahead of the 40-minute return-the-tyres break.

While Bottas was setting the pace, Lewis Hamilton was taking avoiding action against Pierre Gasly.

The Toro Rosso was going extremely slowly on the racing line and Hamilton’s closing speed meant he had to quickly duck around the Toro Rosso and subsequently missed the next corner.

The incident will be investigated after practice.

The action resumed with a big moment for Fernando Alonso as he touched the grass at Degner 1 and spun through the gravel. The Spaniard managed to avoid the barriers and returned to the pits for a quick check on his MCL33.

There were also incidents for Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Gasly.

While all that was going on Hamilton went quickest on the soft tyres, a 1:28.691 for the championship leader.

Bottas was second, 0.446s behind his team-mate, while Ricciardo was third for Red Bull.

Ferrari were next in line with Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Sebastian Vettel, the Finn setting his best time on his second lap on the supersoft tyres.

Max Verstappen finished in sixth place with Esteban Ocon, Romain Grosjean and the Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson completing the top ten.

Lando Norris, replacing Stoffel Vandoorne for FP1, was slowest of all and six-tenths down on Alonso.

Times
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:28.691
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.446s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 0.682s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.936s
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.994s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.150s
7 Esteban Ocon Force India 1.900s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas 2.123s
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber 2.238s
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2.382s
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 2.382s
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 2.409s
13 Sergio Perez Force India 2.581s
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.583s
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 2.727s
16 Lance Stroll Williams 2.817s
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 3.217s
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 3.343s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 3.822s
20 Lando Norris McLaren 3.992s