Lewis Hamilton was more than a second faster than Mercedes’ main rivals in FP2 at Suzuka, and then declared he could probably have gone even faster…
Lewis Hamilton was more than a second faster than Mercedes’ main rivals in FP2 at Suzuka on Friday, and then declared he could probably have gone even faster.
While his Merc team-mate Nico Rosberg beat him by 0.151s in the Free Practice One of the Japanese GP, Hamilton turned the tables on the German later in the afternoon as he posted a time of 1:35.078.
Although Rosberg was just 0.240s off his pace, their nearest rival, Valtteri Bottas of Williams, was 1.201s behind Hamilton, who admitted he still had something left in the tank.
“The first sector was really good on new tyres, but the rear tyres take such a beating through the first sector and I took too much out of them so, when I reached turn nine, it was just wheel-spinning,” he said. “It was quite an unusual moment and it nearly took me off – it went one way and I caught it, but then it shot me the other way and I nearly went into the barrier!
“I bailed out of that lap, and the tyres were at their best that lap. I imagine there are probably two or three tenths in a fresh tyre compared to a second lap tyre, [so] it’s a great feeling coming here, knowing the pace we have compared to everyone else, but there are still things we can improve on.
“[The gap to the rest] changes from track to track, but it’s amazing what this team has done to be able to come here, one of the most demanding circuits for downforce, and be that competitive. It’s fantastic…”
Saturday’s qualifying now looks set to be another battle of the Mercedes drivers and Hamilton is
“I’m excited about it,” he told Sky Sports News. “I hope that it’s dry. But I definitely think as a team we have the opportunity to be up front, so it’s good.”