Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Suzuka, 2018

Mercedes ahead without using softest tyre in first session

2018 Japanese Grand Prix first practice

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Mercedes easily led first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka despite not using the softest tyres available for the opening session.

Despite forecasts of rain the track stayed dry for the first 90 minutes of running, allowing the teams to complete their programmes on slicks. However relatively high tyre degradation, particularly on the super-softs, limited the length of their stints.

This was particularly so for Ferrari, who spent the entire session on super-softs having chosen more sets of them than any other team.

Despite running exclusively on the quickest tyre available, the Ferrari pair barely got within a second of the two Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel’s final effort at improving was compromised by traffic at the chicane.

Lewis Hamilton also encountered a slow car at this point of the track and had to take evasive action to avoid a collision with Pierre Gasly. He set a 1’28.691 on softs which stood as the best time of the session, just under half a second better than the quickest time from first practice in 2017.

Valtteri Bottas, who set his quickest time on medium tyres, made it a one-two for Mercedes. Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull separated them from the Ferraris and like them also ran the super-softs.

Esteban Ocon led the rest of the top 10, 1.9 seconds slower than Hamilton on the same tyre compound. Team mate Sergio Perez ran the medium rubber.

The rest of the top 10 were Ferrari-powered. Romain Grosjean’s Haas was followed by the Sauber pair: Charles Leclerc (on his Suzuka debut) ahead of team mate Marcus Ericsson.

Gasly matched Ericsson’s time to within one-thousandth of a second. However he is also under investigation for the near-miss with Hamilton.

McLaren brought a surprisingly large stock of medium tyres to this weekend and ran exclusively on them in first practice, ending up last among the teams. Lando Norris, who replaced Stoffel Vandoorne for this session, was slowest, while Fernando Alonso spun into the gravel at Degner One.

McLaren and Renault both broke the curfew on having personnel at the track working on their cars last night. This was McLaren’s second and final exemption from a penalty for the infringement, and Renault’s first of the year.

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Pos.No.DriverCarBest lapGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’28.69125
277Valtteri BottasMercedes1’29.1370.44626
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’29.3730.68232
47Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’29.6270.93620
55Sebastian VettelFerrari1’29.6850.99420
633Max VerstappenRed Bull-TAG Heuer1’29.8411.15030
731Esteban OconForce India-Mercedes1’30.5911.90028
88Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’30.8142.12322
916Charles LeclercSauber-Ferrari1’30.9292.23827
109Marcus EricssonSauber-Ferrari1’31.0732.38229
1110Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’31.0732.38220
1255Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’31.1002.40923
1311Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’31.2722.58129
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’31.2742.58328
1527Nico HulkenbergRenault1’31.4182.72718
1618Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes1’31.5082.81727
1728Brendon HartleyToro Rosso-Honda1’31.9083.21723
1814Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Renault1’32.0343.34321
1935Sergey SirotkinWilliams-Mercedes1’32.5133.82226
2047Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’32.6833.99230

First practice visual gaps

Lewis Hamilton – 1’28.691

+0.446 Valtteri Bottas – 1’29.137

+0.682 Daniel Ricciardo – 1’29.373

+0.936 Kimi Raikkonen – 1’29.627

+0.994 Sebastian Vettel – 1’29.685

+1.150 Max Verstappen – 1’29.841

+1.900 Esteban Ocon – 1’30.591

+2.123 Romain Grosjean – 1’30.814

+2.238 Charles Leclerc – 1’30.929

+2.382 Marcus Ericsson – 1’31.073

+2.382 Pierre Gasly – 1’31.073

+2.409 Carlos Sainz Jnr – 1’31.100

+2.581 Sergio Perez – 1’31.272

+2.583 Kevin Magnussen – 1’31.274

+2.727 Nico Hulkenberg – 1’31.418

+2.817 Lance Stroll – 1’31.508

+3.217 Brendon Hartley – 1’31.908

+3.343 Fernando Alonso – 1’32.034

+3.822 Sergey Sirotkin – 1’32.513

+3.992 Lando Norris – 1’32.683

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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17 comments on “Mercedes ahead without using softest tyre in first session”

  1. Yawn. This latter half of this season is turning out to be a complete and utter bore. I don’t recall such boring sessions and races since 2002.

    1. You should go and get some sleep, second practice is only 2 hours. Wat.

    2. @gitanes last quarter you mean? it is only yawn because vettel/ferrari screwed up too many times not that their car was slower…

      1. You obviously didn’t watch the previous 2 races.

  2. Simple solution to your terrible “boredomitis”.
    A. Stop watching F1.
    B. Stop reading about F1.
    C. Keep right off F1 forums.
    There ye go! SOLVED!
    OH! D. Stop boring me too! Thanks.

    1. Nice options, there are other channels one can tune in. Last weekend I was trekking in westetn ghats and simply skipped the race rather than complain about procession..

    2. That’s what people do/will do.

      Once they realise they don’t miss it they won’t tune in again.

      1. Still waiting on you to stop watching, so we can no longer read your pointless rants.

        1. There is also a MotoGP at the same time as F1 this weekend, one can easily switch to more exciting Moto3 and MotoGP (Usually Moto2 is a snoozefest) if they find F1 boring.

          1. These results are terrible for the sport.

            We’re lucky we had Rosberg around from 2014-16 who made it interesting (out qualified Hammy 11-8 in 2014, beat him for the title in 2016).

            Bottas is completely out of his depth and has no backbone.

            Hammy will win every race left in the season. These records just become meaningless.

            5 years of Mercedes dominance. 2014-16 the most dominant cars in the history of the sport.

            People never stopped moaning when Vettel won 4 in a row, except that in 2010 you had 5 drivers in 3 different teams in contention for the title and 2012 you had 7 different drivers win the first 7 races.

            Serves Liberty right.

          2. Why do your comments look like copy/pastes on every page…? ;)

  3. Mercedes seem to have some interesting tricks.

    1. The most interesting trick is Ferrari making their pace disappear.

      1. Or Ferrari taking their pace advantage, putting into a box, taking out a saw and not only cutting it in half, but into many difference pieces…

      2. Hahahahahaha

        1. Or maybe Hammy has been exaggerating Ferrari’s speed.

          Remember after Spa. He was hysterical about how fast the Ferrari was in a straight line at the start of the race.

          Except the Force Indias were about to pass the Ferrari on the Kemmel straight as well.

  4. Hopefully, the rain would stay away so that the outright record would get beaten as it’s still nearly 1.4 seconds to go.

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