Red Bull are pulling out an advantage of half a second over their rivals in the first two sectors of the lap at Suzuka.
But while Lewis Hamilton showed promising pace before his crash, Ferrari’s performance around Suzuka is surely better than 11th and 13th in first practice suggested.
Meanwhile Suzuka specialist Sutil flattered his Force India with the fourth-fastest time.
Tick/untick drivers’ names to show their laps, click and drag to zoom
With heavy rain expected tomorrow the teams got in as much running as they could during first practice on a dry track.
But McLaren missed out on a quarter of the running available to them as Hamilton crashed halfway through the session.
He had just set the fastest time in the first sector of the lap up to that point and had been lapping at a similar pace to Sebastian Vettel. Although McLaren will be frustrated at the loss of track time, they may draw some encouragement from that. Apparently their new rear wing is working as well.
Both MP4-25s ran their new rear wing with revised F-duct. It seems Jenson Button was on a different programme to Hamilton, and had not beaten his team mate’s time by the end of the session.
Indeed Hamilton ended the session fifth despite missing half of it, which indicates the performance drop-off on the hard tyres was quite high. That should improve as more rubber goes down on the track this weekend.
Ferrari also seem to have been keeping their powder dry with neither car finishing in the top ten. Expect that to change in the next session.
Adrian Sutil, whose qualifying performance here last year marked him out as a Suzuka specialist, strung his three best sectors together in one lap to put his Force India fourth.
The ultimate times list shows the Mercedes and Williams are faster. However Sutil was slightly delayed by a hydraulic problem, so there’s probably more to come from the VJM03.
As expected, the Red Bulls are strongest in the first sector, where no other car is within 0.3s of them. Both drivers were also top in sector two, with a slightly smaller advantage.
For the moment at least, their rivals aren’t able to claw much of that back in the final sector with its long straights. Mark Webber was quicker through the speed trap than both the McLarens.
Given Kovalainen ended the session quicker than his team mate it seems this was tried in his first stint, when he was slower, as you can see in the interactive data above.
The next session should provide some clues as to whether Red Bull’s rivals can reduce their advantage – and just how quick those Ferraris are.
|Car||Driver||Car||Best lap||Gap||Lap||At time||Laps|
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’32.585||14||71||23|
|2||6||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’32.633||0.048||14||63||23|
|4||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1’33.639||1.054||9||42||13|
|16||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1’34.379||1.794||12||70||21|
|17||16||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’34.991||2.406||24||62||26|
|18||17||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’35.684||3.099||19||70||22|
An ultimate lap is a driver’s best time in each of the three sectors that make up a lap added together.
|Car||Driver||Car||Ultimate lap||Gap||Deficit to best|
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1’32.536||0.049|
|2||6||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1’32.583||0.047||0.050|
|8||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1’33.639||1.103||0.000|
|15||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1’34.330||1.794||0.049|
|17||16||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’34.933||2.397||0.058|
|18||17||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1’35.416||2.880||0.268|
2010 Japanese Grand Prix
- Force India pair expect busy Friday
- Technical review: Japanese Grand Prix
- Tom Hitchings watches the Japanese GP at Suzuka
- Massa pleased by di Montezemolo’s support
- Hamilton takes heart from McLaren pace
- Mercedes admit missed opportunity to keep Schumacher in front of Rosberg
- Alonso says five drivers can still win title
- 2010 Japanese Grand Prix: the complete F1 Fanatic race weekend review
- Who was the best driver of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend? (Poll)
- Dominant win for Vettel piles pressure on Webber (Red Bull race review)
Image © Force India F1 Team