Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2018

Happy Hamilton completes emphatic Friday practice sweep

2018 Japanese Grand Prix second practice

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“I’m having the best day” declared Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes extended their advantage over their rivals in second practice.

Hamilton was on top for the second session in a row but this time had more than eight-tenths of a second in hand over Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari. None of Mercedes’ other rivals got within a second of them.

“This track is awesome,” laughed Hamilton on the radio early on in the second 90 minutes of running. “I’m having the best day.” Not even his team mate could get close to his pace: Valtteri Bottas was almost half a second slower and took the opportunity to do a second lap on his super-softs, when most drivers found they gave better grip. Hamilton decided he didn’t need the extra lap.

There was little consolation for Ferrari in the long runs at the end of the session either. Vettel reported blistering on both rear tyres during his run on the super-softs, which Ferrari have brought more sets of than any team.

The Red Bulls were in among the Ferraris. Max Verstappen set fourth-quickest time, two-tenths off Vettel. Kimi Raikkonen, who had a near-missed when he ran wide at the exit of the final corner, and Daniel Ricciardo were within a tenth of each other in fifth and sixth.

Just one of the Honda-powered Toro Rossos made it into top ten, in Brendon Hartley’s hands. However Esteban Ocon’s Force India, Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber were all quicker. Pierre Gasly only managed a brief run at the end of the session in his Toro Rosso after being delayed by a sensor problem.

The widely forecast rain stayed away again and the session stayed dry throughout.

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Pos. No. Driver Car Best lap Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’28.217 31
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’28.678 0.461 30
3 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’29.050 0.833 36
4 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’29.257 1.040 32
5 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’29.498 1.281 33
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’29.513 1.296 27
7 31 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1’30.035 1.818 32
8 8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’30.440 2.223 32
9 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’30.478 2.261 33
10 28 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1’30.502 2.285 27
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’30.510 2.293 28
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’30.644 2.427 36
13 10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1’30.795 2.578 10
14 55 Carlos Sainz Jnr Renault 1’30.904 2.687 31
15 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1’30.906 2.689 26
16 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’30.956 2.739 25
17 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1’30.988 2.771 34
18 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1’31.087 2.870 39
19 18 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1’31.215 2.998 32
20 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1’31.981 3.764 32

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Second practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’28.217

+0.461 Valtteri Bottas – 1’28.678

+0.833 Sebastian Vettel – 1’29.050

+1.040 Max Verstappen – 1’29.257

+1.281 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’29.498

+1.296 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’29.513

+1.818 Esteban Ocon – 1’30.035

+2.223 Romain Grosjean – 1’30.440

+2.261 Marcus Ericsson – 1’30.478

+2.285 Brendon Hartley – 1’30.502

+2.293 Sergio Perez – 1’30.510

+2.427 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’30.644

+2.578 Pierre Gasly – 1’30.795

+2.687 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’30.904

+2.689 Charles Leclerc – 1’30.906

+2.739 Kevin Magnussen – 1’30.956

+2.771 Fernando Alonso – 1’30.988

+2.870 Sergey Sirotkin – 1’31.087

+2.998 Lance Stroll – 1’31.215

+3.764 Stoffel Vandoorne – 1’31.981

Drivers more then ten seconds off the pace omitted.

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2018 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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53 comments on “Happy Hamilton completes emphatic Friday practice sweep”

  1. That Ericsson though.

  2. IvoI (@ivostivanov)
    5th October 2018, 8:01

    Just remove top 6 and what a championship we will have!
    If somebody told me 10 years ago that McLaren and Williams will be dead last… Shame!

    1. You should check out the Formula 1.5 championship. Nico Hulkenberg is leading a closely fought championship!

      1. Link didn’t work, try this

    2. @ivostivanov, in the case of Williams, back in 2008 the prospect of them being dead last probably wouldn’t have been that much of a shock – they finished that season in only 8th place, and most of that was down to luck rather than performance.

  3. Well, Wolff told sky afterwards that they think Ferrari weren’t fully turned up on the PU, as they had expected them to be closer on the straights. IF he’s right, then we might have a bit more suspense later in the weekend.

    1. Hope so, but I don’t see Ferrari causing too much trouble to Mercedes anyway. This decade was dominated by RBR and Mercedes, Ferrari’s last win here is from 2004!

    2. Implying that Mercedes were fully turned up? A bunch of PR bull, as usual from Toto.

    3. The same was said last week in Sochi and when they did turn it up, qualified 0.5s behind Bottas.

      1. That’s probably because the merc had a even better quali mode.

      2. KGM11, when you look at the onboard footage from Vettel’s car from his qualifying run in Sochi, he did make a few mistakes on his fastest lap that probably made the gap look a bit larger than it was. He locked up when entering Turn 14, causing him to run wide at the apex of that corner, before then compounding that mistake by applying too much throttle in Turn 15 and suffering from oversteer on the exit of that corner – it wasn’t a particularly good lap by Vettel, so he probably would have been closer with a cleaner lap.

        Mind you, whilst some are speculating about their power unit, I get the feeling that it may be more down to poor rear traction – ever since the Belgian GP, the SF71-H has had a lot of problems with poor rear traction and far heavier blistering than its rivals.

        They were literally tearing the tyres apart in Monza and were having problems with high tyre temperatures and blistering in Sochi as well. They’ve been suffering from the same problem again in practise this weekend and Vettel noted that the team were suffering from higher rear tyre wear than their rivals due to the rear sliding around more than they would have liked – something seems to have gone wrong with their recent updates given that their car now seems to be overworking the rear tyres.

        Some might have suggested that their straight line performance is worse, but I think that is more of a symptom of their poor rear traction. If the drivers are having to hesitate that fraction longer on corner exit, that is going to hurt their acceleration – if, as in Sochi, they then compound that by running more rear wing to try and compensate for that, that increased aero drag is going to be slowing them down too.

  4. I’m done with this season. I cannot take another run away Mercedes championship. It is boring and I’ve seen it already.

    1. You aren’t being forced to watch the sessions and comment on F1 blogs. If you are bored by it, don’t watch it.

    2. @trido it certainly wasn’t runaway

    3. Don’t let the door hit you….

    4. @trido Then just stay away from these comment sections altogether. Leave these sections for proper conversations.

    5. @trido Hamilton is almost half a second up on his team mate. It’s clear that Mercedes resolving tyre and cornering issues has coincided with some of the best form of his career. So yes, they seem to have regained dominance. Isn’t that what motor racing is about? If Vettel and Ferrari have dropped the ball, that’s their problem. They have the car and they have the resources – and they have a 4x champion. No excuses.

    6. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      5th October 2018, 14:41

      @trido Bye!

  5. Lucky that Bottas moved over and handed Hammy the win last weekend.

    He’d be in real trouble right now without those extra 7 points…

    1. Say that in 4 weeks time. 1 mechanic failure and 1 crash is all it takes. Ham already lost 2 championships due to car unreliability.

      1. He’s had one DNF since October 2016. Even if he DNFs it’s almost assured that Bottas will take the 25 points such is the Mercedes advantage. So Vettel can hope for 18 points at best.

        1. Ferrari should listen to you. The should give up on trying to win the championship as its already lost, and use the rest of the season to prepare for the 2019 campaign.

        2. Did you miss when Hamilton AND Bottas both DNF’d at Austria this year?

          Sometimes, I wonder if the ranters have even bothered following the season.

          1. Like I said, Hammy has DNF’d once in two years. That’s about 40 races. 1 DNF.

            Hammy’s a $1.03 favourite for the championship as of this moment.

            It’s pathetic that Mercedes and Hamilton fixed the Russia result. Shameful given their enormous advantage.

          2. I think it’s called: selective recall… ;)

      2. Rosberg lost two… So what’s your point?
        To become champion you need all aspects. Ask Fernando.

        1. Rosberg lost two… So what’s your point?

          Rosberg lost 2 championships due to unreliability? Eh? No he didn’t.

    2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      5th October 2018, 14:50

      Lucky that Bottas moved over and handed Hammy the win last weekend.

      He’d be in real trouble right now without those extra 7 points…

      For once, your sarcasm is correct. Because Hamilton has already done enough to negate those 7 points by driving rings around Vettel all season.

      Well done, you finally made a fair comment.

    3. Poor anonnywonny, comes here and embarrasses itself a bit more every weekend.

  6. Seems the Honda engine is going faster if even Hartley is in the top ten. No rain this means the rain is arriving much later then planned? So possible raceday will be raining too?

  7. Was hoping for a big performance from Ferrari, to go down fighting and keep the championship half alive, doesn’t look like materializing! Encouraging from the Honda engine though.

    1. Next year might be good for Red Bull.

      1. Depends how reliable that Honda is, Toro Rosso probably lost a lot of points early season with constant starts from the back due to engine changes. It seemed like every other race, they were slapping a new engine in. Things have improved now though.

        Factor in that the Red Bull is a different beast especially with cooling (Remember testing 2014 and the Red Bulls catching fire and the team having to saw holes in the bodywork?), and I suspect Red Bull and honda will be all out during testing to avoid having to take penalties too early.

        1. Is not testing just about that?
          Looking for the edges and optimize.

        2. @nikkit For 2019 Toro Rosso will be the test team for Honda and Red Bull, everything will be stress tested in those two cars first. This is the beneift of Honda finally getting a another two engines on to the grid, twice as much data and less risk for Red Bull, hopefully they can make further gains over the winter.

  8. The fickle fan party is back with its complaints about the season being boring and Mercedes being on their way to become “runaway” champions. I wonder what these party members were thinking/where they were hiding when Ferrari had the slightly better car and the season was finely poised just three races ago. Seriously, guys…I think everyone has had enough of these far more “boring” complaints, which seem to resurface at the slightest hint of the championship tilting towards one driver before the last race of the season, which is a highly idealistic expectation anyway. Seems like nothing can satisfy you all.

  9. What the heck is going on with Vandoorne? I get that McLaren has probably made their worst car ever, but Alonso is a full second ahead of him.

    1. @warheart I cannot say how true it is but Belgian F1 commentator reported during Singapore that McLaren is using Vandoorne’s car to train new mechanics including some with no prior race experience.
      Hard to verify from the outside and it could very well be that commentator trying to justify bad performance. That said Norris was also last the 2 sessions where he drove Stoffel’s car.

      I do believe that vandoorne was originally impacted by McLaren using FPs to develop what in the end will be next year’s car and a number 2 status. As for the lack of form it could be that he’s down mentally as well.

      1. Novice mechanics? That’s a novel excuse… I think we’ve actually heard them all now.

        Occam’s razor says he is simply that much worse than Alonso. You simply cannot be that much slower that consistently due to constantly changing extraneous reasons.

      2. Kibo, what won’t help is the fact that Marko has recently made a fairly savage comment about his ability. When asked if he was considering Vandoorne as a possible candidate for Toro Rosso, he responded by saying he had no interest in him and that he thought Vandoorne was not fast enough to compete in F1 – the sort of statement that is going to be pretty damaging to his efforts to stay in F1.

  10. GP2 car… what a load of rubbish that McLaren is.

    1. To be fair it has done an almost identical time to the Haas, Renault, Sauber, Williams and STR… So that accounts for half of the teams…

  11. It’s time to start wondering what Ocon could do in that second Mercedes

  12. Gap 1-2: 0.45
    Gap 7-8: 0.41

    Yeah, completely different.

    But while your’re at it, why not put each of Hamilton, Bottas, Max and Vettel in a league of their own and reduce F1 to Kimi and Ricciardo. Much closer racing and much more fun.

  13. Still, approximately nine tenths to go.

  14. Good thing McLaren can’t embarrass Honda in front of their home crowd this year…

    1. It’s already embarrassing enough to look at McLaren.

  15. If FP is anything to go by, this will be the most lopsided race of the season. Hamilton to lap the entire field except his teammate. I’m exaggerating of course, but not by much. It wouldn’t surprise me if only the Mercs and the Ferraris ended up on the lead lap.

    1. In Max we trust…

    2. I’m exaggerating of course, but not by much. It wouldn’t surprise me if only the Mercs and the Ferraris ended up on the lead lap.

      We saw just 3 cars ending up on the lead lap in Austria, so not so unlikely…

  16. your comment is a missed oppertunity to contribute something to the discussion

    That kinda implies MG1982 has the ability to contribute to the discussion though, I really don’t think they do.

  17. I have to admit, I have changed my mind. Lewis is the greatest driver of this generation I was just jealous

  18. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    5th October 2018, 21:14

    Well that’s demoralizing for the championship. Not sure why people complain about others being sad about it; it is sad. A few races ago the Mercs/Ferraris looked fairly evenly matched – it looked like a good fight to the end but either Ferrari’s stepped backwards or Merc have stepped hugely forwards. Either way that close fight isn’t close anymore and that is sad. I mean unless you’re a Mercedes/Hamilton fan, then I guess it’s great but if you’re not it’s pretty miserable stuff.

    Ferrari just don’t seem capable of matching the development pace of Mercedes or Red Bull, regardless of terrible strategy, silly mistakes and bad luck. If Red Bull-Honda come good next year Ferrari won’t even see the podium. Though as for this year (… again…) it’s Hamilton’s to lose.

Comments are closed.