The 16th round of the Formula One World Championship got off to an abbreviated start as rain impacted the amount of track time teams were able to have Friday at Suzuka Circuit.
Both of the 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile), 18-turn track were affected by rain, with FP2 nearly washed out completely.
Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen only participated in FP1, with both drivers finishing among the top-11 in speed.
Grosjean led the way with the ninth-fastest time – a 1:31.032 earned on the 17th of his 22 laps while riding on a set of Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tires. Magnussen was 11th quick with a 1:31.216 set on his 15th and final lap, with his Haas VF-17 also outfitted with supersofts.
Both drivers cycled through all three tire compounds brought to Suzuka by Pirelli, starting with a solitary installation lap on the White medium tire followed by two stints sampling the Yellow softs before switching to supersofts.
Leading the way in FP1 was Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, whose fast lap of 1:29.166 was .211 of a second better than the next quickest driver and championship leader, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.
FP2 was a relatively quiet affair due to the rain. Of the 14 drivers who ventured onto the wet track, Hamilton was fastest with a 1:48.719. His time was .799 of a second faster than next best Esteban Ocon of Force India.
“FP1 was a solid session in between the drops of rain. We managed to do everything we wanted, more or less. It would’ve been nice to get a few more laps on the long run on high fuel before the rain came, but we saw how fast the car is anyway. The car’s doing OK for now, so we need to keep on that trend. We need to keep improving and making sure we don’t lose our way. The weather can determine a lot. We’ll see what happens between FP2 and FP3. I think we have some ideas what to do to get the car better.”
“The car was feeling good straight away, so we were happy about that. I think we need to try and find some more speed, for sure, because other people are going to be doing that. If we’re aiming to score points this weekend we need to get it right. I had the issues with the water leak and I could only do one lap per run. So, I didn’t get that much running, but hopefully we can catch up.”
Drivers have one more practice session on Saturday (12:00-13:00) before qualifying starts at 15:00. Qualifying consists of three rounds, with the 15 fastest drivers from Q1 moving on to Q2. Then, the 10 fastest drivers from Q2 advance to Q3 where they’ll battle for the pole.