The 16th race of the Formula One season, the Japanese Grand Prix, has arrived on the Suzuka. Both championships have been set up fairly, but many unanswered problems remain in the paddock.
Max Verstappen and Red Bull put their difficult Singapore Grand Prix weekend behind them on Friday, setting the pace in FP1 and then setting the fastest time in FP2, before the session was red flagged late due to a crash involving Alpine’s Pierre Gasly.
To pick up where he left off earlier in the day, Verstappen was one of the first drivers to transition to the regular soft compound rubber in another session featuring testing for the 2024 season’s prototype C2 tyres.
Two Ferraris finished in the top four positions, with Carlos Sainz (winner at Marina Bay and pole sitter for the last two races) finishing half a second behind Verstappen’s time and Leclerc three tenths down.
FORMULA 1 LENOVO Suzuka JAPANESE GRAND PRIX 2023
Practise 2 results
|1||1||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||1:30.688||19|
|3||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:31.152||+0.464s||22|
|6||14||Fernando Alonso||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:31.492||+0.804s||22|
|7||23||Alexander Albon||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:31.555||+0.867s||23|
|8||81||Oscar Piastri||MCLAREN MERCEDES||1:31.662||+0.974s||22|
|9||11||Sergio Perez||RED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT||1:31.710||+1.022s||24|
|10||77||Valtteri Bottas||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:31.739||+1.051s||22|
|11||18||Lance Stroll||ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES||1:31.771||+1.083s||22|
|12||31||Esteban Ocon||ALPINE RENAULT||1:31.794||+1.106s||22|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||HAAS FERRARI||1:31.797||+1.109s||24|
|15||40||Liam Lawson||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||1:32.141||+1.453s||23|
|16||24||Zhou Guanyu||ALFA ROMEO FERRARI||1:32.165||+1.477s||16|
|17||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||1:32.169||+1.481s||23|
|18||22||Yuki Tsunoda||ALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT||1:32.178||+1.490s||26|
|19||10||Pierre Gasly||ALPINE RENAULT||1:32.179||+1.491s||22|
|20||2||Logan Sargeant||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:32.320||+1.632s||25|
The First Practice Session
In the first practice session, both Mercedes drivers chose not to use the soft rubber. However, George Russell managed to secure the fifth position with an impressive lap time. On the other hand, Lewis Hamilton had a relatively uneventful session, finishing in 14th place. Hamilton had requested the team inspect his floor early on in the session.
In an impressive display of skill, Fernando Alonso and Alex Albon took charge at the front of the pack for their Aston Martin and Williams teams, securing sixth and seventh positions, respectively. Not far behind, Oscar Piastri, who recently extended his contract with McLaren, showcased his talent by claiming eighth place.
Sergio Perez, representing Red Bull, closely followed in ninth position, while Valtteri Bottas of Alfa Romeo rounded off the top ten.
Lance Stroll’s comeback in the Japanese Grand Prix
Lance Stroll, who suffered a significant crash during qualifying in Singapore, made progress in his recovery as he aimed to regain his form. Unfortunately, the incident forced him to sit out the race, but he managed to secure the 11th position, finishing just behind Esteban Ocon from Alpine, Nico Hulkenberg representing Haas, and the previously mentioned Lewis Hamilton.
In a tightly contested procession, a group of cars trailed closely behind, with F1 rookie Liam Lawson taking the lead in 15th position. The young driver from New Zealand is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to secure a permanent seat for the upcoming season as AlphaTauri grapples with a challenging decision involving their trio of drivers.
A Thrilling Display of Skills and Determination
In a thrilling display of skill and determination in the Japanese Grand Prix, Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu managed to navigate a treacherous moment at the exit of Degner 2, ultimately securing the 16th position on the timing screens. However, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen found himself in a state of frustration as both Carlos Sainz and Lawson obstructed his path through the challenging ‘S’ curves.
In front of his home fans, Yuki Tsunoda secured the 18th position, finishing just 0.037 seconds behind his new teammate Lawson. However, Tsunoda found himself three places behind Lawson. Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly and Williams rookie Logan Sargeant, who is currently fighting for his Formula 1 future, occupied the last positions on the grid.
In a dramatic turn of events during the final moments of the session, Pierre Gasly triggered the red flags. The incident occurred as he approached the second Degner, where he unfortunately locked up, causing his car to slide through the gravel and collide with the barriers on the outside of the corner. Gasly promptly expressed his remorse over the radio for the resulting damage.
Drivers and teams are now diligently analyzing their data from the Suzuka sunset session in order to return to the track on Saturday in optimal condition. The final practice session is scheduled to commence at 1130 local time, followed by the highly significant qualifying hour at 1500.