Valtteri Bottas was fastest after surviving a spin on the start/finish straight to go fastest in the second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix. The Finn was preparing to start his qualifying simulations when he looped his car through the final corner.
The session was busy as the drivers needed to get the laps and times in as the session could determine the grid due to Typhoon Hagibis. Should qualifying not take place on Sunday, the grid will be determined by the results of FP2.
Bottas topped the times with a 22.785 on his qualifying sim to edge Hamilton despite a spin before his first flying lap. As expected the Mercedes looked very stable through the sweeping corners and outpaced Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by two tenths.
Red Bull brought a new aero package and a fuel upgrade to combine with the fresh engines they added to their power unit supply in Russia in order to avoid a grid penalty on Honda’s home turf. Verstappen proved that the Red Bull was stable in the corners.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was a tenth off the Dutchman and ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel after the team failed to maximise the best of the conditions at the end of the session. Both Ferrari’s struggled to get the clean lap in and ran into traffic on their hot laps
Vettel was just under six tenths slower than Bottas, while Alex Albon managed to split the Ferraris initially before slipping to sixth, just over six tenths off the pace.
McLaren also had another positive session, the team proving constant with Carlos Sainz maintaining seventh place. The Spaniard was three tenths faster than the Racing Point of Sergio Perez and six and a half tenths down on Albon’s Red Bull.
Pierre Gasly was ninth ahead of the second McLaren of Lando Norris, with his teammate Daniil Kvyat twelfth.
With the cancellation of FP3 on Saturday, teams treated the session as a qualifying session, with extra tyres all the drivers ran two soft runs. Mercedes and Red Bull opted to do the two single laps in quick succession around the hour mark of the session before moving on to long runs.
Haas’s Romain Grosjean was thirteenth ahead of Lance Stroll. Renault continued to have a difficult session, they focused on evaluating the front wing. Robert Kubica was nineteenth ahead of George Russell.
Teams bunker down on Saturday, Typhoon Hagibis moves in overnight, qualifying and the race take place on Sunday.