Valtteri Bottas led the way for Mercedes as the championship-leading team took the top two positions in the opening practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Prior to the start of the session the FIA confirmed that due to the approach of Typhoon Hagibis all activities scheduled to take place at Suzuka tomorrow on Saturday, 12 October have been cancelled. Qualifying will now take place at 10am local time on Sunday morning, with the race scheduled for its normal 2.10pm start.
The FIA later issued a further updating adding that in the event that inclement weather on Sunday morning makes Qualifying impossible the grid for the race will be established based on the Second Practice Session Classification, with any penalties applied as necessary.
Friday’s practice session therefore take on added importance and after the opening 90 minutes it was Bottas who emerged as the quickest man. The Finn edged team-mate Lewis Hamilton by just under eight hundredths of a second, with Sebastian Vettel in third place, though the Ferrari driver was almost a full second off the pace in third.
Hamilton set the early pace in the early stages setting a time of 1:30.832 on medium compound Pirelli tyres but by the halfway point of the session Bottas had moved to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:30.524.
Vettel then bolted on soft tyres to move to the front with a lap of 1:29.720 but that was quickly eclipsed by both Mercedes drivers, with Bottas setting his session-best during the latter half of the session.
Charles Leclerc was fourth-fastest in the other Ferrari, with the Monegasque driver finishing just under two tenths of a second off Vettel’s pace. Max Verstappen was fifth for Honda-powered Red Bull Racing at the start of the Japanese manufacturer’s home race weekend, with teammate Alex Albon three tenths slower in sixth.
Seventh place when to McLaren’s Carlos Sainz who set a best time of 1:30.702, almost two seconds off Bottas’ pace. The Spaniard stopped at the side of the track at the start of the session with a minor technical issue but he was quickly recovered to the pits and was soon on his way again.
Sergio Pérez took eighth place for Racing Point 0.149s ahead of team-mate
Lance Stroll. The final top-10 spot was taken by Lando Norris in the second McLaren.
Further back reigning Super Formula and SUPER GT champion Naoki Yamamoto took over Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso for the session, and the Honda- backed driver finished in 17thplace, just under a tenth of a second behind regular race driver Daniil Kvyat.
2019 FIA Formula One Japanese Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 26 1:28.731
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 25 1:28.807 0.076
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 26 1:29.720 0.989
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 20 1:29.912 1.181
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 22 1:30.046 1.315
6 Alex Albon Red Bull Racing24 1:30.375 1.644
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 21 1:30.702 1.971
8 Sergio Perez Racing Point 21 1:30.810 2.079
9 Lance Stroll Racing Point 27 1:30.959 2.228
10 Lando Norris McLaren 24 1:31.001 2.270
11 Romain Grosjean Haas 25 1:31.283 2.552
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 27 1:31.307 2.576
13 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 29 1:31.426 2.695
14 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 25 1:31.563 2.832
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 22 1:31.785 3.054
16 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso 23 1:31.920 3.189
17 Naoki Yamamoto Scuderia Toro Rosso 30 1:32.018 3.287
18 George Russell Williams 23 1:32.80 4.069
19 Robert Kubica Williams 27 1:33.484 4.753
20 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 4 1:36.887 8.156