Japanese GP: Bottas keeps Mercedes 1-2 in FP2 at Suzuka
Mercedes continued to be in front with Valtteri Bottas leading Lewis Hamilton in FP2 of F1 Japanese GP with Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen in third.
With no surety of qualifying actually taking place on Sunday in F1 Japanese GP at Suzuka due to a possibility of rain, the FP2 became crucial after the FIA note ahead of the session which talked about grid being set based on the FP2 time.
It made the second session interesting, which was completed under dry conditions like FP1 but the Mercedes drivers headed the pack still with Bottas (1m27.785s) again ahead of Hamilton (1m27.885s) by just 0.100s, despite a spin for Bottas.
In case there is a rain on Sunday in qualifying, it will be Bottas on pole alongside Hamilton. The Red Bull drivers initially sandwiched the Ferrari duo but a late run for the latter changed the order. Verstappen (1m28.066s) remained third though.
Charles Leclerc (1m28.141s) improved to fourth from sixth but Sebastian Vettel (1m28.376s) dropped to fifth as both had traffic on their final quick laps. The late run demoted Red Bull's Alexander Albon (1m28.402s) to sixth.
Like FP1, McLaren's Carlos Sainz (1m29.051s) was best of rest in seventh from Racing Point's Sergio Perez (1m29.299s) as Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly (1m29.354s) did well to be ninth ahead of McLaren's Lando Norris (1m29.358s).
It was Gasly's first drive on the day after Naoki Yamamoto drove in FP1. Alfa Romeo Racing's Kimi Raikkonen (1m29.477s) missed out on a Top 10 in 11th with Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat (1m29.512s) 12th and Haas' Romain Grosjean (1m29.533s) 13th.
After looking good early on, Racing Point's Lance Stroll (1m29.597s) dropped down to 14th with Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi (1m29.651s) slotted in 15th on his first full practice session after troubles in FP1 due to hydraulic pressure.
Haas' Kevin Magnussen (1m29.749s) was 16th ahead of the Renault duo Daniel Ricciardo (1m29.859s) and Nico Hulkenberg (1m30.334s) - they went for their quick lap early in the session. Ricciardo tried to set an improved time late but was hampered by Magnussen.
The back end of the grid had Williams' Robert Kubica (1m20.916s) finish ahead of George Russell (1m31.071s) in 19th with the Pole the sole one using the updated front wing - which they may not use in the race.
[Note: This story was also written by me on FormulaRapida.net]