Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest again in second Friday practice

Lewis Hamilton dominated Friday's second Formula 1 free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton fastest again in second Friday practice

The Mercedes driver hit the front during the early running on soft-compound Pirelli tyres, setting a best time of 1m28.911s.

So strong was the pace of Mercedes that Hamilton's initial time would have been good enough for second overall at the end of the afternoon, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas the only driver to better it later in the session on supersofts.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was the first of the frontrunners to complete a qualifying simulation, posting a 1m29.257s to climb to second.

This was subsequently bettered by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who set a 1m29.050s despite later complaining that the car handled "like rallycross".

Bottas had a shot at going fastest, only to carry too much speed into the Degner 2 right hander and run wide at the exit. He aborted the lap.

Hamilton then completed his three-lap qualifying simulation run, banging in the fastest time of the session with a 1m28.217s - taking a bite of the grass on the run from the hairpin to the kink before Spoon Curve on the way while passing a touring Charles Leclerc.

Bottas did put a lap together at that point, outpacing Hamilton in the long middle sector that stretches from the approach to Degner 1 to the middle of the back straight, but overall he was 0.461 seconds slower.

That put him ahead of Vettel and Verstappen, with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen fifth and a massive 1.281s down.

Daniel Ricciardo was slowest of the drivers from the top six teams, just 0.015s behind Raikkonen.

Esteban Ocon led 'Class B' for Racing Point Force India, posting a 1m30.035s that briefly placed him fifth after showing strong pace on mediums on the first runs.

That put him four-tenths faster than the Haas of Romain Grosjean, who pipped Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson by 0.038s.

Brendon Hartley, driving for Toro Rosso and benefiting from the upgrade 'Spec 3' Honda engine, rounded out the top 10, 2.285s off the pace.

Sergio Perez was 11th in the second Force India, missing out on the top 10 by eight-thousandths of a second.

Renault's recent slide continued with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr ending up 12th and 14th respectively.

They were split by Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly, who did not head out until the final quarter-of-an-hour after what the team described as a fuel cell issue.

He went straight into a performance run on supersofts, posting a 1m30.795s with 10 minutes remaining.

Sauber driver Leclerc had a scruffy session, which included a couple of off-track moments in the middle of Spoon Curve, and ended up 15th.

His first qualifying simulation lap was compromised by running side by side with Lance Stroll in the chicane and then his second was ruined by a wide moment at the hairpin.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was 16th ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso, who used soft Pirellis to set his best lap of 1m30.988s.

Williams pairing Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were 18th and 19th, ahead of the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.

FP2 times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.217s - 31
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m28.678s 0.461s 30
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m29.050s 0.833s 36
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m29.257s 1.040s 32
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m29.498s 1.281s 33
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m29.513s 1.296s 27
7 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m30.035s 1.818s 32
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m30.440s 2.223s 32
9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m30.478s 2.261s 33
10 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m30.502s 2.285s 27
11 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m30.510s 2.293s 28
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m30.644s 2.427s 36
13 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m30.795s 2.578s 10
14 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 1m30.904s 2.687s 31
15 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m30.906s 2.689s 26
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m30.956s 2.739s 25
17 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m30.988s 2.771s 34
18 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m31.087s 2.870s 39
19 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m31.215s 2.998s 32
20 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m31.981s 3.764s 32


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Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Author Edd Straw
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