Sebastian Vettel beat Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to top spot in an incident-strewn second Formula 1 practice session at Suzuka.
Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso both had moments at the Degners – the latter doing well to save a spin without damage – while Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado all suffered early exits after accidents.
Perez’s off was the most dramatic: the Mexican clipped the Astroturf on the entry to Spoon with his McLaren’s rear right and was pitched sideways into a heavy collision with the barriers.
Williams driver Maldonado also hit the tyres – this time at Degner, just 12 minutes into the session – while Raikkonen lost the rear of his Lotus and ended up beached in the gravel at Dunlop 30 minutes from the session’s end.
The Finn still ended the session fourth fastest, as the field collectively switched to long runs for the final third of the afternoon.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m33.852s 35 2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m34.020s +0.168s 35 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.114s +0.262s 36 4. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m34.202s +0.350s 17 5. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m34.411s +0.559s 30 6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.442s +0.590s 36 7. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.473s +0.621s 30 8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m34.698s +0.846s 35 9. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.912s +1.060s 34 10. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.087s +1.235s 32 11. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m35.089s +1.237s 36 12. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.109s +1.257s 34 13. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m35.182s +1.330s 34 14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m35.275s +1.423s 35 15. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m35.341s +1.489s 25 16. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.709s +1.857s 8 17. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m36.136s +2.284s 41 18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m36.722s +2.870s 6 19. Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1m37.630s +3.778s 31 20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m37.905s +4.053s 36 21. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m38.121s +4.269s 33
Kimi Raikkonen – 8th/4th: “The car felt pretty good today. Of course, there are some areas we can improve but I’m quite happy with the progress we made. I spun in FP2 so we did miss some of the long run laps we would have got this afternoon. I was on a fast run and the wind changed, which can affect the car sometimes. At least we didn’t do any damage so the crew won’t have any extra work. It’s not a big drama as we know the track pretty well. We have a few changes for tomorrow so let’s see what happens.”
Romain Grosjean – 7th/5th: “Finding the right balance to get the car working well around here is quite tricky and the tyres are not making that any easier, so we’ve got some work to do overnight to make it a little easier to handle. There’s definitely some more performance to be found, and it’s always better to be near the top of the times even if you’ve not got things quite right, so we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We have struggled a bit for consistency today, with both drivers having off-track excursions. Romain in particular experienced brake locking, which is something we can counter with some mapping work. We lost a reasonable amount of long run data collection as a result of Kimi’s spin, meaning Romain’s programme was modified slightly and we might look at doing some race simulation work during tomorrow’s practice. On the softer tyre we look competitive and I think we can expect to qualify well. Our long run pace also looks good so it’s an encouraging start to the weekend.”
A quiet FP1 for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in Japan, with plenty of running and valuable data collection. Some hefty incidents on track, but the Lotus F1 Team boys managed to keep it clean. Here’s how it went…
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.157s 19 2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m34.487s +0.330s 19 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m34.768s +0.611s 24 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m34.787s +0.630s 20 5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m35.126s +0.969s 14 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m35.154s +0.997s 16 7. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m35.179s +1.022s 15 8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m35.364s +1.207s 17 9. Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.450s +1.293s 27 10. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.635s +1.478s 19 11. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m35.868s +1.711s 22 12. Nico Hülkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1m35.900s +1.743s 18 13. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m36.066s +1.909s 20 14. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m36.165s +2.008s 19 15. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m36.178s +2.021s 12 16. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1m36.340s +2.183s 23 17. Paul Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m36.399s +2.242s 18 18. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.760s +2.603s 22 19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m37.595s +3.438s 22 20. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1m37.629s +3.472s 8 21. Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1m38.025s +3.868s 15 22. Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1m38.763s +4.606s 18