Second free practice at the Japanese Grand Prix topped by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Forty-five minutes of delay were met with eventual running as five drivers posted a timed lap at Suzuka, and a further nine carrying out exploratory runs. With Lewis Hamilton fastest of those by eight-tenths of a second to Force India’s Esteban Ocon – the first driver to test the standing water resting at the first and final corners.
Rain first began to fall in Suzuka as the chequered flag approached to end first practice. Marking Sebastian Vettel’s table-topping session with a light sprinkling of moisture that set the tone for the inbound break.
When FP2 was then set to start at 2pm local time, the session was indefinitely postponed with heavy rain leaving standing water across the Suzuka circuit. With a strong current creating a river in pit lane, in which Formula One’s drivers and mechanics created paper boats for.
45 minutes later, the session then was eventually engaged as the rain eased. Met with a further brief lull as now even the safety car remained in the pit lane. Eventually broken by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, as the Finn left the pits for an exploratory run.
In all, that exploratory lap was all that Raikkonen would complete. With Vettel, too, only completing a single lap for Ferrari.
Yet, with Raikkonen on track, a dry line was in part already beginning to form as the Pirelli full wet tyres dispersed their 85 litres of water.
The dry line, however, did not prevent a moment for Esteban Ocon when he arrived at the first corner to begin a timed lap. Though, not as severely as Lance Stroll, who fought for grip as he aquaplaned under braking and sailed into the gravel trap. Narrowly avoiding a collision with the wall.
Ocon’s timed lap, meanwhile, demoted his team-mate by nearly two-seconds as he improved on his own benchmark lap. However, he too was bettered by Hamilton as the Briton posted a 1:48.719.
Further rain then began to fall and track conditions swiftly returned to the tricky conditions the drivers were first met with. Marking an early end to the session as the field flocked back to the pits.
|2||Esteban Ocon||Force India||Mercedes||3||1’49.518||0.799|
|3||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||3||1’51.345||2.626|
|13||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||Renault||1|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||0|
|17||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||Renault||0|
|19||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||0|