Japanese GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

Suzuka Silver

Lewis Hamilton, Japanese GP 2013

Lewis Hamilton, Japanese GP 2013 

 © Active Pictures

Mercedes Silver Arrows teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg topped the times in Free Practice 1 for the Japanese Grand Prix. The clocked times of 1:34.157 and 1:34.487 respectively. Red Bull teammates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber went third and fourth quickest with laps of 1:34.768 and 1:34.787. They were the only four drivers to get below the one minute 35 second barrier.

The ambient air temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 97 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius.)

Mark Webber was the first out on the 18-turn 3.608-mile (5.807-km) Suzuka circuit. The Red Bull team had replaced his chassis that had been burned and damaged in the collision with Adrian Sutil in Korea. The engine and gearbox, however, were the same ones as he'd raced with in Korea.

Daniel Ricciardo, who will replace Webber at Red Bull in 2014, was the first driver to complete 2 laps. But they were only installation laps and he did not set a lap time.

Pirelli's dry weather tire options this weekend are the hard compound with the orange sidewalls and the mediums with the white sidewalls. Everybody was out on the hards in the early laps of the session.

10 minutes into the session, everybody had completed their installation laps and Lewis Hamilton was the only driver on the circuit, but he soon steered his Mercedes down into the pits.

Everybody stayed in the pits until 16 minutes into the session when Pastor Maldonado's Williams shattered the peace and quiet that had been hanging over the circuit. As Maldonado came steaming down the pit straight to start a flying lap, Jules Bianchi (Marussia) joined him on the circuit.

20 minutes into the session, Maldonado clocked the first lap time: 1:36.969. Bianchi clocked the second time of the session: 1:39.268.

And now Sergio Perez (McLaren) also joined the on-track activity. The crew asked him for 3 consistent laps to gather data and then one fast lap after that. His first lap was a 1:37.483. Maldonado was still circulating but had not improved his time until 25 minutes into the session when he set a 1:36.178.

All of the big names relaxed in the pits. There were only four drivers on the track.

30 minutes into the session, Bianchi crashed his Marussia into the tire barriers at Turn 9 and tore the left front wheel and suspension off. Perez, meanwhile, had set a new fast lap mark of 1:35.450.

36 minutes into the session, Webber posted the second fastest time – 1:35.586. His teammate Sebastian Vettel remained in the pits along with the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

39 minutes into the session, Webber went fastest with a 1:35.208.

41 minutes into the session, Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) moved into second with a 1:35.364. Vettel, meanwhile, was finally out on the track again as was Massa.

At the midpoint of FP1 the top six were: Webber, Vettel (who had just set a 1:35.217) Raikkonen, Perez, Massa and Jenson Button (McLaren.)

Less than a minute later Massa shot to the top of the screens with a time of 1:35.126. Rosberg was on track now, and his first flying lap was a 1:34.864. Vettel moved into second with a 1:35.049. Hamilton and Alonso were now out there as well.

50 minutes into the session, Rosberg went even quicker with a 1:34.495 as Vettel improved to a 1:34.768 and Hamilton moved into third with a 1:34.994. They were the only three below the 1:35 level.

Alonso was struggling with the Ferrari and down in eighth place.

55 minutes into the session, Hamilton topped the charts with a 1:34.251. Rosberg improved marginally to a 1:34.487.

At the one hour mark the top six were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Webber, Massa, and Alonso.

Romain Grosjean, who said he was really struggling with the rear end of his Lotus, ran wide at Turn 14, but he bounced back with the seventh fastest time.

With 24 minutes remaining in the session, Hamilton had now improved to 1:34.157, which was 0.33 of a second quicker than teammate Rosberg. Slowest on the charts was Max Chilton who set a 1:38.763 in his Marussia.

With 22 minutes remaining in the session, Maldonado lost the left rear wheel on his Williams and parked it at Turn 14. A couple of marshals corralled the loose wheel and took it away.

In a separate incident Guido van der Garde locked the wheels on his Caterham and just missed nudging the barriers at Turn 9. His car was craned off the track and parked next to Bianchi's.

With 15 minutes remaining in the session, the drivers were concentrating on long runs rather than ultimate lap times.

With 10 minutes remaining in the session, it was all very orderly and team by team in the time sheets with Mercedes' Hamilton and Rosberg first and second, Red Bull's Vettel and Webber third and fourth, Ferrari's Massa and Alonso fifth and sixth, Lotus's Grosjean and Raikkonen seventh and eighth, and McLaren's Perez and Button ninth and 10th.

Nico Hulkenberg (11th in his Sauber) broke the chain, and then Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne resumed it by being 12th and 13th.

With four minutes to go, Ricciardo moved up to 10th

With 2 minutes remaining in the session, everybody was on track except Valtteri Bottas (Williams) and the guys who had stopped out on the circuit.

With 1 minute remaining in the session, Chilton had a graceful spin in his Marussia in Turn 1.

The top 10 at the end of FP1 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel, Webber, Massa, Alonso, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Perez and Ricciardo.

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