Japanese GP: Oscar Piastri breaks local hearts as he pips Yuki Tsunoda to P1

Michelle Foster
Oscar Piastri in front of the Suzuka grandstands

Oscar Piastri set the pace in FP2 in Japan

Oscar Piastri put in a late run in what could only be called a damp squib of a practice session to break the hearts of the Japanese fans as he snatched Yuki Tsunoda’s P1.

Lewis Hamilton was another late-runner, taking second place ahead of Charles Leclerc in a session in which just five drivers posted proper lap times.

Oscar Piastri’s late dash breaks Japanese hearts

The forecast rain arrived in the break between sessions leaving the drivers sitting in the pits at the start of FP2 as they waited for the track to dry out.

Lewis Hamilton was the first to test the conditions as he ventured out after 15 minutes. Although he reported just a few wet spots, Mercedes told him to pit as “rain indicators” said more rain.

And more rain was what Daniel Ricciardo, who set out FP1 for RB test driver Ayumu Iwasa, reported with the Honey Badger out and in.

Declared ‘low grip conditions’ by Race Control, the drivers remained in their cars in the garages waiting for the conditions to improve.

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With 33 minutes left on the clock, Oscar Piastri left the pits on the full wets but radioed back to McLaren that it was not that wet. That saw others leaving the pits with Yuki Tsunoda told “no more rain expected”.

But with the conditions not optimal for the intermediate tyres and not wet enough for the full wets, only the RB team-mates of Ricciardo and Tsunoda entertained the fans as they stayed out. The Japanese driver lowered the benchmark to a 1:40.9 to sit P1 to his team-mate’s P2 before they too pitted.

Mercedes revealed it was the new tyre rules that were keeping the drivers off the track with the teams limited to five sets of inters per car, and unlike last season when they got an extra set if there was a wet practice, this year it is just the five.

Venturing out in the final 10 minutes, Kevin Magnussen tried the slicks but said it was too wet and Alex Albon on the inters said the track was ready for slicks.

A few drivers, including Oscar Piastri, opted for a late lap or three with the McLaren driver up into P1 with a 1:36.862. He took two seconds out of his time on his second flying lap to end on a 1:34.

Lewis Hamilton was another late-runner, finishing second ahead of Tsunoda with just five drivers setting proper lap times. The others were only out to test the conditions or do a practice start at the end of the sessions.


1 Oscar PIASTRI 1:34.725
2 Lewis HAMILTON +0.501
3 Charles LECLERC +4.035
4 Yuki TSUNODA +6.221
5 Daniel RICCIARDO +7.188
6 Lando NORRIS +10.252
7 Carlos SAINZ +17.854
8 Nico HULKENBERG +20.454
9 Valtteri BOTTAS +21.334
10 Esteban OCON +24.388
11 Guanyu ZHOU +28.592
12 Alexander ALBON+29.096
13 Kevin MAGNUSSEN no time
14 Max VERSTAPPEN no time
15 Logan SARGEANT no time
16 Pierre GASLY no time
17 Sergio PEREZ no time
18 Fernando ALONSO no time
19 Lance STROLL no time
20 George RUSSELL no time

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