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Championship leader Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheet in a rain-hit second practice session for the 2017 Japanese Formula One Grand Prix on Friday.
The Mercedes driver posted one of only five timed laps in an afternoon of action hit by a long delay due to the deluge. His time of one minute, 48.719 seconds was enough to put him ahead of Force India’s Esteban Ocon.
In the day’s first practice session, mainly run in the dry, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel edged Hamilton into second with a lap of 1:29.166, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo placed third.
Read on for a closer look at the day’s action.
Sky Sports F1 provided a look at the classification from FP2:
Sky Sports F1 🏎 @SkySportsF1
Just the five times set in P2
Blog: https://t.co/W4Jk8YOv8D #SkyF1 #JapaneseGP #F1 https://t.co/7MxRnL26AX
The second session got under way 45 minutes later than scheduled due to the heavy rain.
As a result there was only 45 minutes of action in FP2, but very few drivers used the time to put in competitive laps.
Per Tom Clarkson of BBC Radio 5 Live (via BBC Sport’s Gary Rose), Ricciardo explained the lack of enthusiasm to get out on track: “The problem is we get one free set of inters on Friday, but we don’t get a free set of extremes, so any we use today will cost us. We can use the inters and we will, but if it is extreme conditions we will not run.”
Force India’s Sergio Perez posted the first timed lap after several drivers went out to test the waters.
The Mexican returned a 1:51.345 25 minutes from the end of the session only for team-mate Ocon to produce a 1:49.518.
Hamilton then posted his 1:48.719 to top the standings before Williams duo Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were the final two to register a time.
Formula One posted the classification from FP1:
Formula 1 @F1
INITIAL CLASSIFICATION: END OF FP1
#JapaneseGP 🇯🇵 https://t.co/6agNoomUEL
German Vettel—34 points back from Hamilton in the championship standings—was 0.211 seconds faster than the Englishman in the opening session at Suzuka.
The top spot in the rankings changed hands several times as Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all looked evenly matched, but it was four-time world champion Vettel who prevailed in the end with the quickest lap on supersoft tyres.
The session was interrupted after a big crash from Carlos Sainz in his Toro Rosso.
Per F1, the Spaniard lost control at Turn 11 and crashed hard into the barriers, causing huge damage to his car:
Formula 1 @F1
It was an early and dramatic exit for Carlos Sainz during FP1 at Suzuka 💥
#JapaneseGP 🇯🇵 https://t.co/YdtTsmFDRQ
Fortunately Sainz escaped unhurt, but there was a lengthy pause in proceedings as a result.
Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen finished the opening session of Friday in fourth place, while Valtteri Bottas was almost a second down from Vettel in his Mercedes.
Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen—winner at the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend—endured some problems in FP1 and finished in sixth spot after failing to get inside one-and-a-half seconds of the fastest lap.