Japanese Grand Prix practice sessions at Suzuka
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time at the Japanese Grand Prix during second free practice session today, running on Pirelli’s P Zero White medium tyre. This has been nominated alongside the P Zero Orange hard which are both well-suited to the challenging demands of the Suzuka circuit which is renowned for its high-speed corners.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton went fastest on the P Zero Orange hard compound this morning, setting a benchmark time of 1m34.157s. But it was Vettel who went on to set a time of 1m33.852s during the second free practice, which proved to be the quickest time of the day. The 26-year-old set his fastest time halfway through the afternoon session, with his team-mate Mark Webber going second-quickest while also on the medium compound. Both sessions were held in warm and dry weather with ambient temperatures topping 30 degrees Celsius.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “We always enjoy coming to Japan: the atmosphere is electric and the enthusiasm for Formula One over here is nothing short of incredible. We had two solid free practice sessions today with the teams collecting data on crossover points, the relative speed of the tyre when used for more than one run and general tyre behavior. Last year we saw a two-stop tyre strategy and it looks like we are on target for a two to three stop race again this year. Suzuka is an abrasive circuit and the tyres are subject to high-energy loadings with fast corners such as 130R and Spoon. It’s no surprise, therefore, that a three-stop strategy was what won this race back in 2011. We are expecting lower temperatures for race day which will reduce the thermal wear of the tyres and some teams might try to go for a straight two-stop race. From the data we currently have the time difference between the two compounds is around 0.5s.”