Mercedes have set the early pace ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, with both Mercedes drivers topping the time sheets in the two practice sessions earlier this morning.</
Mercedes have set the early pace ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, with both Mercedes drivers topping the time sheets in the two practice sessions earlier this morning.
Whilst Mercedes led the way all eyes were on Toro Rosso as seventeen year old Max Verstappen made his debut in the first session. The Belgian driver who only began racing car last year stepped in for Jean-Eric Vergne. Despite suffering with a broken exhaust in the closing stages of the opening session of the day, Verstappen set the twelfth fastest time.
Thankfully for everyone the weather than has threatened this weekend failed to materialise with the only stoppages being caused by cars breaking down and crashes. The most notable of the casualties was Daniel Ricciardo.
Dominance beyond Mercedes
The Australian allowed his tyres to cool down too much as ended up in the barrier on the exit of the final corner. The home favourite Kamui Kobayashi had a difficult start to his weekend, Kobayashi stepped aside of Roberto Merhi in FP1, the Japanese driver only managed four laps in the afternoon after a collision with the wall. Another driver who ended the day in the wall was Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber who made an error at the Spoon Curve.
Toro Rosso had a difficult afternoon as the broken exhaust valve that hindered Verstappen in FP1 caused Vergne to stop twice out on the circuit.
As Mercedes led the way throughout the day, behind the constructors’ championship leaders it is up to Williams to lead the charge behind. Valtteri Bottas is said to be pleased with the new area upgrades on the FW36. Whilst the Fin enjoyed a productive day the same cannot be said for his teammate. Felipe Massa struggled all day with the grip that his car is giving him, this resulted in the Brazilian coming home in P11 and P14.
The McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen both look to be in great shape heading into qualifying, both are happy with the upgrades that the team have brought with them to Japan at a circuit that means an awful lot to the Brit. Button finished this afternoon with a time of 1m 36.409s which meant he finished the day in P4.
It was a difficult day for Force India with Nico Hulkenberg finishing the day in P12 with Sergio Perez down in P15. The Mexican lost the majority of FP2 thanks to a gearbox electronic problem, Perez will be extremely busy in FP3 before qualifying.
A force to be reckoned with
It was a better day at the office for Lotus, Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado ended their day in P13 and P16. Whilst today has been much better for the team, Maldonado faces a 10-place grid drop as a result of using a sixth engine.
Mercedes today have shown just why they are so ahead in this seasons championship, whilst they knew that they would be fast, no one knew just how quick they would actually be. Whilst Hamilton narrowly beat championship rival Rosberg by just .240 in FP2, the next car behind the pair is Bottas who could only manage to get 1.201 away from the silver arrows.
Behind the Mercedes pair the grid is close between the likes of William, McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull. The chasing back best hope that the rain that is promised arrives as it looks as if it could be their only hope.
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