Formula 1 got off to a soggy start at the Suzuka international racecourse, as the Mercedes were under close watch following their Singapore slip up. No dry running was seen, and forecasts suggest dry weather is expected for the rest of the weekend. To the surprise of many, Mercedes yet again failed to top a session, Sainz was on top for Toro Rosso in FP1, whilst Kvyat got the optimum out of his Red Bull in the afternoon session to ensure the Mercedes do not get to top any of the sessions.
For the world champion, it was all but ideal, the Englishman had his work cut out during the morning practice, and during the afternoon session, Hamilton only managed P3, and half a second adrift of team-mate Nico Rosberg. Lewis revealed the heavy imposed problems to nearly all drivers, as the standing water brought in the inevitable risk of aquaplaning, and as evident, Lewis was barely seen on track all day.
“Today hasn’t been a good day for us in the paddock and for the fans that were sitting there all day in the rain waiting to see the cars.
There is nothing we really learned today so everything needs to be done tomorrow.
It is slippery, wet and there was also aquaplaning; not the most exciting conditions. We didn’t want to take too many risks today, as there is no point in damaging the car or the gearbox.
It wasn’t a very productive day overall. I hope it is dry tomorrow, but we are prepared for all conditions.”
On the other side of the garage, it was a good day for the under pressure German. Rosberg managed third during the morning session, and second, just some 0.020 adrift of Kvyat during the afternoon session. If the leaderboards prove accurate, it would be Nico Rosberg who has the edge over Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg is convinced the track will be dry for rest of the weekend, and the data learned of Friday may well be useless for rest of the weekend.
“The car felt good in the wet today, we were able to do some laps and find some good settings for wet conditions.
But it’s impossible to judge about the real performance level of the field in those conditions.
We have to learn a lot in FP3 tomorrow morning because it should be dry Saturday and Sunday, but you never know in Japan.”Sebastian Vettel:
It was a bittersweet session for Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari, he had a smooth start to the weekend, but didn’t manage to intervene in the fastest times on the leaderboard. The German admitted the rest of the weekend way be very different, possibily the pendulum would swing back in his favor. The Ferrari driver remains to keep realistic, despite his dominance at Singapore.
“We tried to do some laps but it was not so easy, because sometimes there was quite a lot of water on the track.
In these conditions it’s a lot up to the driver if he wants to continue or not, feeling the tyres and feeling the conditions.
Also, the conditions not being consistent, it’s not so easy to compare your car to other people’s car.
In general at the beginning I think we were not where we wanted to be, but maybe in the end we learned some lessons. Now let’s see how the weather will be in the next couple of days.”
On the other side of the garage, and the Finn’s day went even worse. Raikkonen just lacked pace over the course of the two rainy Japanese sessions. Raikkonen admits the outcome of rain on Friday is a “shame”, as it limits dry running, which will be seen for rest of the weekend.
Today the weather was not very good and the track conditions were a bit tricky.
It’s a shame for everybody but it was a day like any other for us: we did some running and tried to learn something.
We have to wait until tomorrow and see how the weather comes out to be, it could be anything.
We’ll try to do a good job and make the best out of it.”
Despite the Australian not setting a time in the morning session, Ricciardo did well to go P4 in FP2, to show why the Red Bull is so special around Japan. Like most of the competition, Ricciardo is aware the rain will most likely not be seen for the rest of the weekend, and lot of data gathered today will not be suitable for the rest of the weekend.
“It was a little difficult to get temperature in the brakes, with the weather and the short runs, but not much else happened today.
In the few laps we did, I think we got an understanding of the track conditions and if they remain the same for tomorrow, we know which direction we should take with the set-up.
But it doesn’t look like the weather will remain the same!
In that case, we will have to work efficiently tomorrow to get the car set up and we won’t have much time to change the balance once we get going but we will see how we go.”
The Russian arguably had the best day out of all, Red Bull’s Kvyat was second in the morning session, and pipped both Mercedes to go fastest in the afternoon session. Suzuka has played to the strengths of the high downforce demands of the Red Bull in the past, and rain just helped their charge even more today. Kvyat hopes for the rain to continue, but knows the chances of that are being immensely trimmed down, as Japan looks set for a dry race.
“The conditions today were tricky.
The track was slippery the more it drizzled and Suzuka is a narrow circuit and there are a few corners where the car had a tendency to aquaplane.
We have work to do for tomorrow but I think we are ready.
The chassis is handling well, cornering in the wet has always been strong for us but we don’t know what the weather will be like tomorrow.
For us it would be good if the rain continued, but we will see what happens.”