Connect with us

2018 F1

Japanese Grand Prix: Free Practice Analysis

Published

on

  • 2
    Shares

Lewis Hamilton topped both the Friday free practice sessions of the 2018 Japanese weekend. The Mercedes duo were separated by a 0.4 second gap in both sessions. Daniel Ricciardo was third fastest in the first practice session while Sebastian Vettel occupied that spot in the second session.

Raikkonen was fourth fastest in the first session while in the second session he was sixth fastest. Vettel was fifth fastest in the first session and third by the final session of the day. Max Verstappen was sixth fastest in the morning session and surged to fourth fastest by the afternoon session, while his Australian team-mate was sixth fastest by the second session.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon remained seventh fastest in the ‘best of the rest’ spot leading the mid-field pack through both the sessions. He was followed by fellow Frenchman and Haas driver, Romain Grosjean who was also consistent with the eighth fastest time in both sessions.

The Sauber drivers Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson occupied the final two spots in the top 10, with ninth and tenth fastest time in the morning session. However, by noon, only the Swede was able to make into the top 10 with the ninth fastest time and was followed by Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley wight he tenth fastest time.

While the Mercedes drivers dominated both sessions, the Ferrari drivers masked their sprint and long-run pace in both sessions. The 0.4 second gap between the two Mercedes is possibly where one can slot at least one of the Ferraris if not both. Speculation has been rife over the drop-in pace of the Maranello cars post Sochi, however it is been speculated that the team have been turning down their engines to power saving mode for the Friday practice sessions since the Singapore GP. Therefore, both sessions have not been much of an indicator of their true pace in both sprint and qualifying mode.

The average lap times of the top six drivers on two compounds were as follows:

 

Driver Supersoft Soft
Hamilton 1: 34.210 (5 Laps) 1: 33.455 (5 laps)
Bottas 1: 34.904 (5 laps) 1: 34.018 (4 laps)
Vettel 1: 34.816 (5 laps) 1: 33.770 (5 laps)
Raikkonen NA 1: 34.783 (5 laps)
Verstappen 1: 34.986 (5 laps) 1: 34.136 (5 laps)
Ricciardo 1: 33.773 (5 laps) NA

 

*None of the drivers attempt race simulations on the medium compound tyre

In the race simulation sessions in FP2, the top six were seen carrying out most of their work on the soft and supersoft compound. However, there could be a forecast of rain showers during the race, which means use of the intermediate or full wet tyres. Hamilton’s pace on the soft compound was the benchmark for the session and it was consistent in the 1 minute 33 second bracket. Vettel’s pace on the soft tyre did match Hamilton’s, but with Ferrari in engine saving mode, it is difficult to see where they fit in the pecking order this time. The German did clock a few similar laps in the 1:33 second bracket however they were not as consistent as the reigning World Champion’s. Around Suzuka brake temperatures are never a problem, however tyre wear and tear can be an issue, due to the abrasive asphalt at this circuit. Raikkonen’s soft tyre had huge tread towards the end of the session since he was the driver who did the maximum race simulations on the compound.

Hamilton is about 0.315 seconds quicker than Vettel on the soft compound, according to the law of averages. However, one can expect the Ferrari to be quicker or close during the race, since their engine saving mode on Fridays. On the supersoft compounds, Ricciardo was the quickest with his average best race pace over five laps clocked at 1: 33.773, which is 0.437 seconds quicker than Hamilton’s average on the same compound. Therefore, the session was misleading when it comes to the pecking order in terms of race pace. One would still place Ferrari as second best there or on par with Hamilton’s Mercedes. The Briton’s team-mate however has inconsistent runs on both tyre compounds, almost seven tenths of a second slower on the supersoft compound and six tenths of a second slower than on the soft compound.

Ideally Vettel should split the two Mercedes in the qualifying and race. However, it is still difficult to predict whether he could beat Hamilton around a circuit which clearly suits both the Briton’s driving style and car. The only conditions that could change the outcome of the race would be a first lap carnage, off-track incidents at the Degner straight or if there is a downpour or some mixed grip levels on the tarmac. The Suzuka circuit is not only challenging for the driver but also the engineers and technical department of the team. Therefore, for a driver to string the perfect lap or have the best race at this circuit it is going to require a combination of great skill and the appropriate tools.

Loading...

Comments

Latest Results

Latest F1 News

2019 F111 hours ago

Kubica not ruling out Williams exit

2SharesRobert Kubica is not ruling out a change of teams in Formula 1. The Pole has hinted that Williams is...

2019 F111 hours ago

Pirelli CEO admits wanting Ferrari race wins

2SharesThe CEO of Pirelli has hit back at suggestions the F1 tyre supplier is favouring Mercedes. Red Bull’s Dr Helmut...

2019 F111 hours ago

Carey defends October delay for 2021 rules

2SharesChase Carey has defended the decision to postpone the announcement of the rules for 2021. Some see the October delay...

2019 F112 hours ago

Ferrari asks FIA for Vettel penalty review

2SharesFerrari is pushing ahead with its request for a “review” of the penalty that cost Sebastian Vettel victory in Canada....

2019 F11 day ago

Vettel even stronger after Canada GP – Binotto

2SharesMattia Binotto says Sebastian Vettel will “emerge even stronger” from the Canada GP penalty controversy. Last week, Ferrari dropped its...

2019 F11 day ago

Marko rules out MotoGP test for Verstappen

2SharesDr Helmut Marko has ruled out a MotoGP test for Max Verstappen. Marko said recently that MotoGP supremo Carmelo Ezpeleta...

2019 F11 day ago

Ferrari concept change will take weeks

2SharesMattia Binotto says it will take Ferrari “two or three upgrades” before the Italian team can take on Mercedes at...

2019 F11 day ago

Pirelli design issue should be fixed – Binotto

2SharesMattia Binotto has joined Red Bull in calling for Pirelli to change its tyre design. Last week, outspoken Red Bull...

2019 F15 days ago

Karting now physically harder than F1 – Grosjean

2SharesRomain Grosjean says even go-karting is now more physically difficult than racing in Formula 1. In Canada last weekend, five...

2019 F15 days ago

Not enough support for tyre change – Marko

2SharesDr Helmut Marko has admitted he cannot get enough support to force Pirelli to change its controversial tyres. The Red...

Most Popular

ThisisF1.com is not affiliated with Formula 1, Formula One Management, Formula One Administration, Formula One Licensing BV, Formula One World Championship Ltd or any other organization or entity associated with the official Formula One governing organizations or their shareholders. Copyrighted material used under Fair Use/Fair Comment.

References
We could use the following leading F1 news sources for stories: SkyF1, BBC F1, Autosport, ESPN F1, FIA Media Center, MotorSport, JamesAllen and others leading authors blog.

All Rights Reserved © 2017 Prime Sport Media