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Friday analysis - plenty left to learn at Suzuka

25 Sep 2015

Two wet sessions in Japan on Friday obliged everyone to consider just how valuable or otherwise it would be to venture out and risk the machinery, given the more benign forecast for the remainder of the weekend. In the first, wet tyres were required initially before intermediates became feasible. In the second intermediates were feasible straight away, but more rain later slowed things down a little. Much depended upon the timing of runs which rendered things a lottery of little real value as far as determining the pecking order was concerned. Now everybody has to cram all of their dry running into FP3, when they’ll be attempting to set-up their cars and assess the tyre compounds prior to qualifying. We take a team-by-team look at what progress - or otherwise - was made on day one...

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat, 1m 49.938s, P2/1m 48.277s, P1
Daniel Ricciardo, No time/1m 40.097s, P4

Kvyat was in very strong form in both sessions, pipping the Mercedes to fastest time in the second when he hit a lull in the conditions. Ricciardo sat out the first, but looked reasonably strong in the second.


Nico Rosberg, 1m 50.077s, P3/1m 48.300s, P2
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 50.722s, P5/1m 48.853s, P3

Mercedes did enough to satisfy themselves that there won’t be a repeat of the Singapore issues, and Rosberg looked pretty good all day. The German was using his Monza engine, but will revert to his Singapore unit for the rest of the weekend. Hamilton only went out late in FP1, but was happy enough with his FP2 performance. Both set their FP1 times on wet tyres.


Sebastian Vettel, 1m 50.519s, P4/1m 50.268s, P5
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 51.212s, P7/1m 50.319s, P6

Ferrari lacked pace relative to Mercedes and Red Bull, and Vettel made a great save or two in the tricky conditions. Raikkonen had an off at the end of FP1 when he went back out on wets, but was close to Vettel in the afternoon.

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz, 1m 49.434s, P1/1m 50.418s, P7
Max Verstappen, 1m 50.940s, P6/1m 50.542s, P8

Toro Rosso were the first team to venture out in anger in FP1 and Verstappen immediately went quickest, two seconds up on Sainz. Later the Spaniard improved, however, to set fastest time. Verstappen lost time in the afternoon while his team traced a loose screw, but again Sainz was fractionally faster. Both rookies conducted themselves extremely well in the difficult conditions.


Felipe Nasr, 1m 54.013s, P11/1m 50.968s, P9
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 53.820s, P9/1m 51.934s, P13

Both drivers did a lot of running, especially in FP3, and despite several adventures they were respectable in ninth and 13th positions. The main aim was to get them both some valuable learning miles.


Romain Grosjean (pm only), 1m 52.534s, P15
Pastor Maldonado, No time/1m 51.557s, P10
Jolyon Palmer (am only), No time

Against the backdrop of problems with a late sea freight delivery, Lotus had a reasonable day. They restricted their drivers to an untimed lap apiece in the morning, which meant Palmer didn’t get a proper run, but Maldonado showed pace in FP2.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, No time/1m 51.674s, P11
Sergio Perez, No time/1m 52.070s, P14

Neither driver ran in FP1, but got out in FP2 without looking particularly quick.


Jenson Button, 1m 55.678s, P12/1m 51.861s, P12
Fernando Alonso, No time/1m 55.239s, P17

Button did an exploratory lap in FP1, Alonso was soon back in the garage having his ICE changed after a problem arose. He won’t get a penalty as a previously used unit was installed for FP2. Button complained bitterly then of understeer and other issues, as the Spaniard focused on putting installation miles on his new (old) power unit.


Felipe Massa, 1m 52.288s, P8/1m 52.765s, P16
Valtteri Bottas, 1m 53.964s, P10/No time

Williams struggled as the first to run intermediate tyres in FP1, and Massa and Bottas soon wore them out. The Brazilian ran again in FP2, but the Finn elected not to in order to save tyres.


Will Stevens, No time/1m 58.059s, P18
Alexander Rossi, No time/1m 59.419s, P19

Manor restricted their drivers to out laps in FP1, then sent them out on different settings to learn the track in FP2.