Free practice at Suzuka was interrupted twice: firstly by a red flag in FP1, and then again by heavy rain that severely limited FP2.
However, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel proved the potential pace of this year’s race by setting a fastest time in FP1 that was nearly three seconds quicker than the equivalent time last year, and more than a second faster than the 2016 pole.
This was even though the German had far from a perfect lap, with some humidity already making the track tricky and a bit of traffic as well. Although there was a red flag that interrupted FP1, the teams were still able to complete some runs on the soft and supersoft compounds, which are currently separated by about 0.7 seconds per lap in terms of pace. Only the full wet tyre was used in the heavy rain this afternoon, for a limited number of laps. Conditions for the rest of the weekend are expected to be mixed: wet for some of Saturday and then dry on Sunday.
Mario Isola - Head Of Car Racing
“Lap times in FP1 were much faster than we’ve seen in the past once more, both because of the new regulations with wider tyres, and a softer tyre nomination for Japan than we have had in the past. As Suzuka is quite intensively used during the year, there was already some rubber on the track that enabled the cars to be quick straight away this morning, and the supersoft to work very well right out of the box. With the red flag in FP1 and the rain in FP2 – which meant that no cars took to the track for the first 45 minutes of the session – the amount of running was of course severely limited, but already the potential when it comes to race pace is clear to see”.