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Live: F1 Japanese GP updates – FP1 & FP2

The fourth round of the 2024 Formula 1 season begins with the two opening practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix and you can follow the action here.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz ended the Red Bull and Max Verstappen domination last time out with victory in Australia, but many expect the Dutch driver to fight back this weekend at the iconic Suzuka.

The majority of the F1 paddock also sees the Japanese GP as a place where the true pecking order will be revealed due to the track’s characteristics and demands on the cars.

First practice starts at 3:30am BST follow by second practice at 7am BST.

By: Haydn Cobb, James Newbold

Summary

Summary
  • McLaren driver Piastri finishes second practice on top in a session with almost no running
  • Track conditions that are too wet for slicks and too dry for intermediates thwart teams, with most laptimes set in the final minutes
  • RB duo Tsunoda and Ricciardo were on course for a 1-2 as the only drivers to log times on inters, before late improvements from drivers on slicks
  • Sargeant is absent from the session after crashing his Williams in an FP1 session topped by Verstappen, who elected not to run in FP2
Leaderboard
  1. Piastri, McLaren
  2. Hamilton, Mercedes
  3. Leclerc, Ferrari
  4. Tsunoda, RB
  5. Ricciardo, RB
  6. Norris, McLaren
  7. Sainz, Ferrari
  8. Ocon, Alpine
  9. Magnussen, Haas
  10. Zhou, Sauber
Status: Stopped
We'll be calling it a day there on the live blog, but do make sure to check out the website during the day for all the latest developments from the paddock in Suzuka. Thank you for joining us, and be sure to follow along tomorrow as we bring you commentary on all the action (or not, if FP2 is anything to go by!) as it happens (or doesn't happen). See you then!
Often being an F1 sim driver can involve quite anti-social hours, pounding around through the night after track running has concluded. By contrast, for the European-based teams, the Japanese GP is a rather cushy gig. They'll have a full day to get down to business with refining set-ups ahead of tomorrow's final practice and crunch qualifying session.
Not a huge amount happened in that disappointing weather-affected FP2 session. But here's the full report of what did transpire as Oscar Piastri ended up topping the times for McLaren.
Let's hope that qualifying tomorrow provides a more fitting contest for the dedicated Japanese fans. At least they got to see what F1 machinery is truly capable of in FP1 earlier on. That session will prove more important than is usually the case, due to the lack of FP2 running, in shaping teams' understanding of how their cars are performing here.
Red Bull and Aston Martin kept their powder dry, with both cars remaining rooted to the garage, while Russell, Gasly and Sargeant's damaged car also stuck to the pits throughout.
 
The RB drivers Tsunoda and Ricciardo ended up fourth and fifth by dint of their times on inters at half-distance, ahead of Norris and Sainz on the slicks in the dying moments of the session.
 
Piastri it was who reaped the reward from committing earliest to the slicks, managing three flying laps to get them up to temperature and posting a time that Hamilton and Leclerc came closest to usurping.
 
Not the most thrilling practice session we've ever watched then. What a pity it took until the final few minutes of the session before any serious track running, after most of the session was spent in no-mans land between it being too dry for inters and too wet for slicks.
Leclerc slots into third on a 1m38.760s, while Norris and Sainz end up slower than the RBs who set their times on inters. Replays show Norris had a big oversteer moment straight out of the pits at Turn 2 which dragged him wide over the run-off.
Hamilton comes closest to matching it on a 1m35.226s. Not a bad effort at all considering that came on his only flyer, while Piastri had three goes at it.
Lots of drivers won't have time for a flying lap as the checkered flag comes out. Piastri's final effort was another improvement, a 1m34.725s.
Piastri goes much quicker on his second lap, a 1m36.862s, to extend his advantage over the earlier inter time and underline that dries are now the way to go. Pity it's come so late in the session though.
That has prompted a flurry of drivers to follow suit. Hamilton, the Ferraris and Norris all head out, along with Tsunoda and Zhou.
Piastri does indeed see his lap through and RB is denied an FP2 1-2. The McLaren goes quickest of the three drivers to set a time on a 1m39.105s.
Hulkenberg doesn't see his lap through and comes into the pits, despite going purple in the middle sector. Will Piastri stick it out?
Hulkenberg though has continued for a timed lap, though is slower than Tsunoda's earlier inter-shod benchmark in the first sector.
Piastri joins the Haas duo and Albon, who went out on inters but has pitted after telling his team "it's ready for slicks". But Magnussen indicates over the radio it's still too wet.
The answer, sadly, is no. But a turn up for the books at Haas. Both drivers have gone out on softs...
Sauber does appear determined to get a lap in and now sends out Zhou and Bottas once more on inters. Will they actually do a flying lap this time?
It looks highly unlikely that Perez will be out in this session. He's in a team jacket looking for all the world as if he has no plans to get in his Red Bull and hustle it around Suzuka.
If there's an upside to the lack of running, it's the chance to see some of the truly fantastic costumes donned by the Japanese fans. Hats off to them.
Zhou and Bottas have both been out and come back in again without setting a time. It seems the teams aren't willing to risk burning through intermediates they may need later in the weekend, nor running slicks that might spit the driver unwittingly into an expensive accident.
The Faenza team formerly known as AlphaTauri and Toro Rosso has of course enjoyed sporadic success before; ironically winning twice at Monza in 2008 and 2020. But as one partial to an underdog, I'll never forget the topsy-turvy qualifying in 2003 at Magny-Cours when in its original guise as Minardi Jos Verstappen headed the first session (which only set the order drivers would qualify during that era's one-shot format) in soaking wet conditions. 
Jos Verstappen, Minardi PS03 Cosworth

Jos Verstappen, Minardi PS03 Cosworth

Photo by: Motorsport Images

As the RB duo come in, Zhou heads back out again in the Sauber. Can he thwart a rare RB 1-2?
With nobody else setting a time, the private duel between the team-mates has been the only real point of interest in the session so far. Providing context, Ricciardo has been informed that he can have a new chassis for the Chinese GP next time out to reassure the Aussie that there's nothing wrong with his current equipment.
Tsunoda improves to a 1m40.946s and remains ahead of Ricciardo who clocks in at 1m41.913s.
Alas, the RB drivers don't come in. Both were going slowly to avoid overheating their tyres. Can Tsunoda retain top spot in the battle of the Faenza-built cars?
Albon concurs with the view that it's too dry for the inters, and he follows the Saubers into the pits without doing a flyer. The RB duo are trawling in too, but do at least hold a 1-2 lockout on the timesheets by dint of being the only ones to set a time...
As Tsunoda clocks in the first time of the session, a 1m42.304s, Ricciardo goes second with a time 4.1s slower. Williams has decided to send Albon on his way too.
Tsunoda has continued past the pits, and as we enter the final half hour of the session, we may be about to get our first flying lap.
But a few other drivers are keen to see for themselves, so we now have multiple cars on track at once. Oh the drama! Tsunoda, Ricciardo, Bottas and Zhou are treating the fans to a V6 melody.
"It's not really that wet," says Piastri, who comes back into the pits without attempting a flying lap. Presumably he's concerned that the tyres will just churn themselves up under load in conditions that aren't wet enough for them.
Now conditions have deteriorated to a point that intermediates have become feasible, Piastri heads out on the green sidewalled tyres.
Charles Leclerc is donning a helmet in tribute to his mentor Jules Bianchi this weekend. In 2015, the Frenchman died of injuries sustained in a crash at Suzuka the previous year. During yesterday's media sessions, several drivers reflected on Bianchi's legacy and it was clear he is still remembered fondly nine years on from his passing.

Helmet of Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Helmet of Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Photo by: Charles Leclerc

Perhaps the happiest man about these conditions will be Sargeant. So far, he's not lost any running in this session compared to anybody else...
As Ricciardo comes gingerly back to the pits, we reach the one-third distance of what has been a rather uneventful practice session, to put it mildly.
It seems the track is in that awkward position of not quite being wet enough for intermediates, and not dry enough for slicks.
"It's starting to rain more," echoes Ricciardo, who is trickling round on mediums.
Ricciardo does come out to play too, but Hamilton elects to come back in without doing a flyer as Mercedes reports rain indicators in sector one.
"It's pretty dry, a couple of small spots," reports Hamilton.

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