Lewis Hamilton set the pace in Friday’s second practice at Suzuka, a session in which three drivers – including Daniel Ricciardo – crashed.
Swapping to the medium tyres in the FP2, Hamilton overhauled his team-mate Nico Rosberg to finish quickest of all.
The Championship leader, who holds a three-point advantage over Rosberg in the race for the World title, posted a 1:35.078. That put him 0.240s up on his team-mate while Valtteri Bottas, who was third quickest, was 1.201s down.
Jenson Button was fourth in what proved to be a good session for McLaren while Sebastain Vettel was fifth. The reigning World Champion’s best time, a 1:36.436, was 1.358s off the pace.
But while Vettel had a solid afternoon, the same cannot be said of his team-mate Ricciardo.
The Aussie crashed heavily on his third lap of the afternoon. He lost it at the final corner, hitting the barriers hard with the impact tearing off his front left wheel and crumpling his front suspension.
Minutes later, in a somewhat delayed reaction, the session was red flagged when it became apparent that his car was in an unsafe position and the marshals were not able to remove it without assistance. FP2 restarted six minutes later.
Ricciardo, though, was not the only driver in trouble as it was a trying session for two drivers who sat out FP1 to make way for their teams’ test drivers.
Kamui Kobayashi, who sat out FP1 for Robert Mehri, crashed his CT05 on his third lap of the day. The Japanese driver lost the back end as he entered the left-hander for the esses and smacked the barriers.
Jean-Eric Vergne also ran into trouble as he missed the first few minutes of practice as Toro Rosso had to change his engine following the ICE failure during Max Verstappen’s run in the morning.
And when the Frenchman did venture out, the car broke down on his second lap leaving him stranded on the side of the track. Toro Rosso, though, were able to get the car back to the pits and JEV was back out later in the session.
He added another 17 laps to his tally before pulling over onto the side of the track when his STR shut down. Stopping at the exit of Spoon Curve, the red flags were brought out and, with just three minutes left in practice, FP2 did not restart.
Meanwhile, Esteban Gutierrez joined the list of crashers when he put into the barriers at Spoon, damaging the front end of his C33.
There were a few spots of rain in the final 20 minutes that resulted in some slips and some slides but it was not even close to what the drivers could experience in Sunday’s race should the forecast typhoon near the circuit.
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.078 28 laps
02 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.318 +0.240 27 laps
03 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:36.279 +1.201 24 laps
04 Jenson Button McLaren 1:36.409 +1.331 28 laps
05 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:36.436 +1.358 24 laps
06 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.529 +1.451 19 laps
07 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:36.637 +1.559 26 laps
08 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:36.714 +1.636 31 laps
09 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:36.943 +1.865 27 laps
10 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:37.186 +2.108 3 laps
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:37.219 +2.141 19 laps
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:37.504 +2.426 16 laps
13 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:37.563 +2.485 31 laps
14 Felipe Massa Williams 1:37.700 +2.622 18 laps
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:37.786 +2.708 8 laps
16 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:37.798 +2.720 27 laps
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:38.010 +2.932 25 laps
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:38.365 +3.287 9 laps
19 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:39.069 +3.991 22 laps
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:39.306 +4.228 20 laps
21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:39.333 +4.255 24 laps
22 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:42.760 +7.682 3 laps