Jenson Button picked up where he left off in Japan as he claimed the opening P1 of the Suzuka weekend on Friday.
The 2011 Japanese GP winner proved to be the driver to beat in Friday's first practice despite a slow start that saw just four installation laps from the Brit in the first half of the session.
However, once on the track Button immediately had the pace to challenge at the front and beat his team-mate Lewis Hamilton by 0.233s. Mark Webber was third.
It was a beautiful sunny start to the morning as the sound of the V8 engines cut through the air as Mercedes-bound Lewis Hamilton got proceedings underway with a 1:37.435. However, after a third of the session has gone by only the McLaren driver and the two HRTs were on the timesheets in what proved to be a slow start to the Japanese GP weekend.
But once it got going it came thick and fast with Felipe Massa slipping and sliding, Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber cutting the grass and Fernando Alonso running it very wide. And all the time it was Hamilton who held onto the P1 slot, comfortably ahead of his rivals.
That was until the halfway stage when Webber overhauled Hamilton with a 1:34.856 while Nico Rosberg claimed third ahead of Kamui Kobayashi and Jenson Button, the latter only setting his first lap time just before the session entered its final third.
Button went on to lead the session with a 1:34.507 while several of his rivals, including Grosjean and Sergio Perez, continued to struggle to keep their cars within the track's limits.
The final ten minutes saw few changes to the timesheets while Nico Rosberg took an early shower as his Mercedes lost drive for some reason, forcing him to park it on the side of the track. That brought out the yellow flags which assured that Button would finish the session quickest of all.
01 Jenson Button McLaren 1:34.507 19 laps
02 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:34.740 0.233 25 laps
03 Mark Webber Red Bull 1:34.856 0.349 23 laps
04 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.059 0.552 18 laps
05 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:35.122 0.615 19 laps
06 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:35.199 0.692 26 laps
07 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:35.283 0.776 23 laps
08 Paul di Resta Force India 1:35.299 0.792 17 laps
09 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:35.474 0.967 21 laps
10 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:35.478 0.971 23 laps
11 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:35.484 0.977 25 laps
12 Sergio Perez Sauber 1:35.584 1.077 23 laps
13 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1:35.691 1.184 21 laps
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:35.724 1.217 20 laps
15 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:36.123 1.616 18 laps
16 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:36.222 1.715 24 laps
17 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:36.366 1.859 22 laps
18 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:36.389 1.882 23 laps
19 Timo Glock Marussia 1:37.716 3.209 17 laps
20 Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1:38.295 3.788 22 laps
21 Charles Pic Marussia 1:38.616 4.109 24 laps
22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1:39.043 4.536 24 laps
23 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:39.374 4.867 22 laps
24 Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1:39.688 5.181 18 laps
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