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F1 Japanese GP: Piastri tops damp FP2 for McLaren

Oscar Piastri topped second practice at Formula 1’s 2024 Japanese Grand Prix, where drizzle prevented more than the bare minimum of running and only five drivers actually set lap times.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Rain started sporadically falling in the paddock with under an hour to go ahead of FP2’s 3pm local time commencement, but this intensified with 15 minutes to go.

It was therefore no shock when no cars headed out as FP2 did get under way, with few drivers even in their cockpits at this stage.

After 12 minutes, Lewis Hamilton did venture out on the mediums, declaring the track “pretty dry”, but he was called back into the pits the next time by after Mercedes spotted what Hamilton’s race engineer Peter Bonnington called “rain indicators in sector one”, which stopped the Briton putting a time on the board.

As Hamilton was heading in, Daniel Ricciardo was out exploring, but with the rain Mercedes had seen getting even heavier, the RB driver was soon back in the pits after a sole tour on the mediums.

A 10-minute absence of action then commenced before Oscar Piastri took his McLaren out on the intermediates – his car sending spray upwards from the track surface, which had not been happening during the earlier excursions of Hamilton and Ricciardo.

Piastri said it was “not really that wet”, but he nevertheless was brought back in immediately, just as Zhou Guanyu, Valtteri Bottas, Yuki Tsunoda and Ricciardo were also sampling the inters for the first time as the session’s second half kicked off.

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Only the RB pair stayed out for longer than a single out/in lap, with Tsunoda duly taking his inters to the initial first place benchmark with a 1m42.304s and Ricciardo slotting in behind him 4.1s adrift.

After each had completed a cooldown tour, the RB drivers pushed again and Tsunoda improved to a 1m40.946s, with Ricciardo’s second effort closing him to 0.9s off his team-mate’s new leading time.

With just a third of the one-hour running remaining the RBs pitted, but still few others were willing to join the fray – the consensus that the conditions were really too dry for the inters but too wet for slicks.

Zhou and Bottas at least reappeared on the inters, but again only for single out/in laps aboard their Saubers. Another lull in action that lasted nearly 10 minutes then occurred, before Zhou again headed out in the inters, yet again for just single tours.

As the final 10 minutes of the session began, Alex Albon and the Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg emerged on the slicks, but only Hulkenberg attempted a flying lap.

Yet he abandoned that and so it was left to Piastri, who had also come out late on the slicks, to break the RB lock at the top of the times.

With purple sectors in the final two thirds of his first flier of FP2, Piastri did indeed sneak ahead on a 1m39.105s.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A524

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Although there was just a minute to go by this stage, a gaggle of drivers had also moved to sample the softs – including Hamilton, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the two Saubers, while the RBs remerged to do final inters tours.

Shortly after Piastri produced a third successive fastest lap to finally head the session on a 1m34.725s, Hamilton’s sole slicks effort came in 0.501s down, while Leclerc posted FP2’s third-best time 4.035s off the pace.

Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz headed the order of cars that just completed sectors rather than full laps, ahead of Hulkenberg, Bottas, Esteban Ocon, Zhou, Albon and Magnussen.

This capped an ultimately meaningless lower order as this pack had toured around with the sole aim of being able to conduct a post-chequered-flag practice start on the damp grid.

F1 Japanese GP - FP2 results

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 7

1'34.725

  220.693
2 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 6

+0.501

1'35.226

0.501 219.532
3 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 4

+4.035

1'38.760

3.534 211.676
4 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 8

+6.221

1'40.946

2.186 207.092
5 Australia D. Ricciardo RB 3 RB Red Bull 9

+7.188

1'41.913

0.967 205.127
6 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 3

+10.252

1'44.977

3.064 199.140
7 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 3

+17.854

1'52.579

7.602 185.693
8 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 3

+24.388

1'59.113

6.534 175.507
9 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 4

+55.747

2'30.472

31.359 138.930
10 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 7

 

   
11 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 7

 

   
12 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 5

 

   
13 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 5

 

   
14 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 0

 

   
15 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 0

 

   
16 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 0

 

   
17 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 0

 

   
18 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 0

 

   
19 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 0

 

   
20 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 0

 

   

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