FP1: Rosberg outpaces Hamilton at Suzuka


Nico Rosberg had the edge over Lewis Hamilton throughout Friday’s opening practice for the Japanese GP as the championship leader kept his team-mate at bay to take P1 by 0.215s.

After the heat at Sepang, not too hot and not too cold was the order of the morning as the Formula 1 drivers took the Suzuka circuit for the start of the Japanese GP weekend.

A mix of soft, medium and hard compounds at the start saw Sergio Perez lead the way before he was overhauled by Kimi Raikkonen.

However, it was all change at the top when 30 minutes in Hamilton and Rosberg ventured out on the soft tyres.

The Brit went quickest only to be pipped by Rosberg, who did a 1:33.751 to lead the way by 0.216s.

Sebastian Vettel slotted into third place, half a second off the pace, while Raikkonen dropped to fourth.

After a brief break the drivers were back into it with Raikkonen improving to second before Vettel went quickest.

The German’s time up in P1 was extremely brief, though, as Rosberg hit back with a 1:32.431. That put him 1.094s up on Vettel.

Hamilton finished Practice One in second place, 0.215s down on his team-mate, while the Ferraris were next in line with Vettel ahead of Raikkonen.

Ricciardo was fifth, the fastest of the medium tyre runners, as he beat his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen by 0.25s.

Nico Hulkenberg was seventh ahead of Sergio Perez while Valtteri Bottas completed the top ten.

Fernando Alonso had an early incident as he spun at Spoon Curve, smacking the barrier with the rear of his McLaren. He had to pit for a new rear wing and floor.

The double World Champion, who is running Honda’s latest update, finished P9 having posted a 1:35.003 on the medium tyres.

Romain Grosjean was also in the barriers as he went through the gravel at Degner and front wing first into the barrier. “Brake doesn’t brake,” he reported.

Jolyon Palmer’s practice ended after just 13 laps as an electrical problem curtailed his running.

1 Rosberg Mercedes 1’32.431 24 laps
2 Hamilton Mercedes 1’32.646 +0.215 21 laps
3 Vettel Ferrari 1’33.525 +1.094 19 laps
4 Räikkönen Ferrari 1’33.817 +1.386 17 laps
5 Ricciardo Red Bull 1’34.112 +1.681 23 laps
6 Verstappen Red Bull 1’34.379 +1.948 26 laps
7 Hülkenberg Force India 1’34.530 +2.099 28 laps
8 Perez Force India 1’34.767 +2.336 30 laps
9 Alonso McLaren 1’35.003 +2.572 10 laps
10 Bottas Williams 1’35.381 +2.950 31 laps
11 Kvyat Toro Rosso 1’35.446 +3.015 23 laps
12 Sainz Toro Rosso 1’35.672 +3.241 27 laps
13 Button McLaren 1’35.677 +3.246 24 laps
14 Grosjean Haas 1’35.688 +3.257 17 laps
15 Nasr Sauber 1’35.967 +3.536 15 laps
16 Massa Williams 1’36.169 +3.738 23 laps
17 Gutiérrez Haas 1’36.219 +3.788 21 laps
18 Ericsson Sauber 1’36.294 +3.863 19 laps
19 Magnussen Renault 1’36.822 +4.391 30 laps
20 Ocon Manor 1’37.797 +5.366 29 laps
21 Wehrlein Manor 1’37.966 +5.535 24 laps
22 Palmer Renault 1’37.992 +5.561 13 laps