Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Sebastian Vettel by more than eight tenths of a second as he continued to light up the timesheets in practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.
In the morning session Hamilton had run quickest, eclipsing Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas by just under half a second and in the second session the championship leader repeated the feat, taking top spot 0.461s clear of Bottas.
Vettel had been almost a full second off the Briton’s pace in the opening session and though he was able to edge closer during FP2’s qualifying simulations but only by a tenth of a second as he finished third, 0.833s behind Hamilton.
And when the Briton moved to the supersoft tyres for the session’s qualifying simulations he powered past Bottas and the improving Vetel to take an unassailable lead with a best time of 1:28.217.
Bottas attempted to eat into the advantage, but despite running quicker than his team-mate in the middle sector he couldn’t match Hamilton’s pace elsewhere and finished just under half a second off top spot.
With Vettel third, fourth place in the session went to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman a second back from Hamilton. Next on the timesheet was the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, 0.241 behind the Red Bull man. Daniel Ricciardo in the second Red Bull was left as the last of the top three team’s drivers, in sixth place and 1.296 off P1.
As he did in the morning session, Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon took best-of-the-rest honours, though the Frenchman was over half a second behind Ricciardo. However, he was a comfortable four tenths of a second ahead of than the Haas of Romain Grosjean.
Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson finished in ninth place, just over two hundredths of a second clear of Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley, who was using an upgraded ‘Spec 3’ Honda engine.
2018 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix – Free Practice 2
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 31 1:28.217
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 30 1:28.678 0.461
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 36 1:29.050 0.833
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 32 1:29.257 1.040
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 33 1:29.498 1.281
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG 27 1:29.513 1.296
7 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 32 1:30.035 1.818
8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 32 1:30.440 2.223
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 33 1:30.478 2.261
10 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso Honda 27 1:30.502 2.285
11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 28 1:30.510 2.293
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Renault 36 1:30.644 2.427
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso Honda 10 1:30.795 2.578
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault Renault 31 1:30.904 2.687
15 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 26 1:30.906 2.689
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 25 1:30.956 2.739
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 34 1:30.988 2.771
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 39 1:31.087 2.870
19 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 32 1:31.215 2.998
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 32 1:31.981 3.764