Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were at their best in their Mercedes in first practice for this weekend Japanese Grand Prix. The Mercedes duo were both over a second ahead of the Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
Rosberg who leads the championship was two tenths of a second faster than Hamilton on both the soft and medium tyres two tenths of a second. But it was not a perfect start for Hamilton, who complained of a lack of power early in the session.
Mercedes have dominated this circuit since the introduction of the hybrid power units in 2014 and this shows no sign of ending this weekend with the gap they have over Ferrari. Red Bull are expected to be able to fight with Ferrari once again as this circuit plays to their aero package and raw power isn’t a key factor.
However the Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen fifth and sixth respectively, but they chose not to run the fastest soft tyre compound during the session. This means we could see them close up on Ferrari when they put the soft tyre on.
The Force India’s of Nico Hulkenberg was seventh with team-mate Sergio Perez eighth. The duo also set there fastest times on the medium tyres to go ahead of the McLaren of Fernando Alonso. Alonso recovered to ninth after spinning off.
He lost the rear as he entered Spoon Curve spinning off hitting the rear on the barrier, but luckily kept his engine running so he could keep going. His team-mate Jenson Button also complained about the balance telling his team over the radio “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Suzuka is one of the most demanding circuits of the season but Haas’s Romain Grosjean was the only casualty. The Frenchman appeared once again to suffer break issues for the second time in five days, Grosjean crashed out of Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix after his brake discs exploded.
“The brakes didn’t break,” deadpanned Grosjean, who has said he will “back off” in his radio criticisms of the car’s handling and performance.
Grosjean wasn’t the only victim, Jolyon Palmer missed most of the session after an electrical fault meant he propped up the timesheet after completing just 13 laps.