Formula 1 | Japan, EL2: Russell leads Mercedes F1 one-two at Suzuka

The second free practice session at the Japanese Grand Prix saw conditions similar to FP1, with heavy rain. The 2023 Pirelli tire tests have thus been cancelled, but the 90 minutes scheduled for the session have been resumed.

After leaving the track at the end of Free Practice 1, Mick Schumacher was unable to participate in this second session of the day. In fact, Haas F1 changed its VF-22 chassis and had to change the entire front end.

Nicholas Latifi set the first time of the session at 1’52″233, but he was quickly beaten by Carlos Sainz at 1’49″615. The Canadian was then the victim of a funny incident, because he turned too early at the chicane and had to turn into a single lane.

Alex Albon then Daniel Ricciardo put themselves behind the Spaniard, before Lando Norris put himself temporarily less than a second behind. Asked by his engineer about track conditions, the McLaren F1 driver replied: “Wet!”

The drivers all wore rubber for the rain, and Lewis Hamilton took to the track after 25 minutes of the session, to set the provisional best time of 1’49″489. But on the intermediate rubber, his teammate George Russell beat 1′ 47″9, before improving to 1’45″738.

The Mercedes F1 driver improved again to 1m45.197s, but his team-mate Hamilton was up again, this time on the intermediate tyres. A time of 1m.44.298s put him on top of the chart.oras, as Max Verstappen prepares to hit the track.

Latifi took a provisional third place ahead of Pierre Gasly, and Yuki Tsunoda then moved into third, with Norris moving up to fourth place, 10 thousandths behind the Japanese. The latter went through the gravel at Degner, while Charles Leclerc went through the gravel at the hairpin.

Verstappen and Hamilton exchanged the best time several times and while the Dutchman seemed to be leading in 1’43″137, Russell beat him in 1’42″968. Verstappen regained the fastest lap at 1m42.786s, but the Mercedes F1 drivers regained their lead, Hamilton at 1m42.170s and Russell at 1m41.935s.

On the other hand, Sainz returned to fourth ahead of Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso and Guanyu Zhou, then Valtteri Bottas. Leclerc was in ninth place at this point in the session. Kevin Magnussen then took the fifth position.

The second half of the session saw the rain return and the times stop moving. The teams continue to run to collect data, as the race can take place in complex conditions.

McLaren ended their drivers’ session after an hour, not wanting to run another 30 minutes because the Pirelli tires had not been tested. We also know that the test of 2023 prototypes will be posted in Mexico.

Magnussen didn’t drive much at the end of the session, Haas explained that a big change in settings was initiated in the Dane’s single-seater. We saw Sergio Pérez make a small mistake in this second half of the session, with no consequences.

So Russell and Hamilton signed double these EL2s for Mercedes F1, ahead of the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Pérez. Magnussen was fifth ahead of Sainz, Alonso, Bottas, Ocon and Zhou. Leclerc was 11th ahead of Williams, Pierre Gasly ended the day at the bottom of the standings.

pos. Pilot vehicles time Towers
01 george russell Mercedes W13 1:41.935 23
02 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:42.170 22
03 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:42.786 24
04 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:42.834 26
05 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:43.187 17
06 carlos sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:43.204 23
07 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:43.533 14
08 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:43.733 20
09 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:43.884 13
10 Guanyu-Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:44.525 17
11 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:44.709 10
12 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:44.962 16
13 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:45.039 15
14 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:45.257 27
15 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:45.261 24
16 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:45.885 11
17 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:46.030 9
18 Lance Walk Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:46.776 21
19 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:47.109 13
20 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 -:—.— 0

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