FP2 report: George Russell on top in a Mercedes 1-2 in a long second practice

Michelle Foster
George Russell puts in the laps in the rain. Japan October 2022

George Russell headed a Mercedes 1-2 on Friday afternoon, the Briton 0.2s up on Lewis Hamilton in an extended FP2 for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Formula 1 drivers, excluding Mick Schumacher, had an extra 30 minutes to play in the rain at the Suzuka circuit on Friday afternoon, but it would be fair to say they did not put it to good use.

With the rain continuing to fall, only half of the field set times in the first 30 minutes with Lewis Hamilton leading the way on the full wet tyres with a 1:49.489.

Nicholas Latifi found himself on the wrong piece of tarmac, the Williams driver seemingly misreading the layout in the rain and turning right too soon.

As Lando Norris aptly described the track as “wet”, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc stayed in their garages.

George Russell was first to swap wets for inters, immediately quickest by some 2.5s, Hamilton then also pitting for the green-marked tyres and up by 0.9s.

Hamilton upped his pace to a 1:44.298, Russell closing the gap and four-time Japanese Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel up to P3 in the Aston Martin.

As the Red Bulls joined the action halfway through the 90 minutes, Verstappen went quickest on his first hot lap with a 1:43.571, his team-mate Sergio Perez P4 behind the Mercedes pairing.

Others were finding the conditions a lot more tricky, Yuki Tsunoda running through the gravel at the Degner curves and Charles Leclerc slid wide at the hairpin. The latter reported his front left felt “really bad”.

Russell and Hamilton made it a Mercedes 1-2 again as the session headed into the final 30 minutes with Verstappen third ahead of Carlos Sainz.

Verstappen was not happy with his inters, complaining after just nine laps: “Front tyres are getting way too hot through the lap.”

As Perez, up to P4, had a trip through the gravel, Leclerc, down in 10th place and 2.8s off the pace, left the pits for another run after Ferrari had done some work on his brakes. He still was not happy.

McLaren, with Lando Norris P16 and Daniel Ricciardo P17, called it quits early in the session, the team having completed their day’s programme.

The session ended with a Mercedes 1-2, Russell 0.2s up on Hamilton, with Verstappen a further 0.6 off the pace.

Schumacher did not take part in the session, Haas having to change his chassis after it suffered a crack in his FP1 crash.

Times

1 George RUSSELL Mercedes 1:41.935
2 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.235
3 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.851
4 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +0.899
5 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +1.252
6 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +1.269
7 Fernando ALONSO Alpine +1.598
8 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +1.798
9 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.949
10 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +2.590
11 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +2.774
12 Nicholas LATIFI Williams +3.027
13 Alexander ALBON Williams +3.104
14 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +3.322
15 Sebastian VETTEL Aston Martin +3.326
16 Lando NORRIS McLaren +3.950
17 Daniel RICCIARDO McLaren +4.095
18 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +4.841
19 Pierre GASLY AlphaTauri +5.174