Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat edged Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg by just 0.023s in another rain-afflicted session at Suzuka on Friday afternoon. The other Silver Arrow of Lewis Hamilton finished half a second down on the Russian in third, with the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo and the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen completing the top six.
In contrast to the morning’s first practice session – where Kvyat had been second quickest – all of the fastest times in FP2 came on the intermediate tyres in the opening half of the session when the circuit was damp, but rain was not falling.
However, moments after Kvyat hit the front the skies darkened and heavy rain returned to drench the track, making full wet tyres essential and encouraging many drivers to remain in the garage rather than risk adding to the rising tally of minor off-track moments.
It had been Kvyat who set the pace early on with a 1m 49.374s, although he was soon demoted as Rosberg – who was alone in starting the session on wets – cut down to a 1m 48.300s once he’d switched to intermediates. Hamilton promptly slotted into second, 0.5s down, to give the top of the timesheet a familiar look.
Ricciardo also moved ahead of Kvyat, while further back FP1 pacesetter Carlos Sainz moved into seventh for Toro Rosso. Team mate Max Verstappen remained in the pits however as the team tried to locate a loose screw on the rear of his car. The Dutchman did eventually get out on the half hour mark, and quickly jumped to eighth, 0.1s down on Sainz.
Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson booked ninth and 13th respectively, split by the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado, the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg and the McLaren of Jenson Button.
Fernando Alonso in the second McLaren also missed much of the session as the team refitted various elements of his car. The best conditions escaped him as a result, and it was not until the final 30 minutes, when even wets were struggling, that he managed to get a time on the board. He ended the session 17th, behind Sergio Perez in the second Force India, Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus and Williams’ Felipe Massa. Marussia duo Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi were 18th and 19th respectively.
The majority of the field opted to avoid risks as the conditions worsened – especially as the rest of the weekend should be dry. Mercedes for example sent Rosberg and Hamilton out to assess conditions on wets, but each came in again after a slow lap. Vettel, meanwhile, reported quite a lot of water and aquaplaning on the straights. He was lapping in just under two minutes.
Unlike in FP1, when only 12 drivers clocked lap times, nearly everyone got a time on the board, with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas the only exception. The Finn explained that he wasn’t running in order to conserve tyres for the weekend.
|Japanese Grand Prix Second Practice Results|
|Pos.||Car #||Driver||Best Time||Behind||Gap||Laps|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||1:50.418||-2.141||-0.099||6|