Lewis Hamilton dominated practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday, an early indication that the Formula One championship leader will be tough to beat in Sunday’s race. After leading the morning practice, Hamilton clocked a time of 1 minute, 28.217 seconds in Friday’s second practice session, finishing 0.461 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was third fastest. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was fourth followed by Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen in fifth.
It was another difficult Friday for the Maranello team, who struggled to match rivals Mercedes, as the champions leaders look to be in the strongest shape following the opening day of running at the Suzuka Circuit. Lewis Hamilton set a 1:28.217 on his qualifying simulation run, which was almost half a second quicker than what anyone else managed to do.
Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen admitted that for the moment the Italian side do not seem able to challenge Mercedes at the Suzuka Circuit and added that the team will have its work cut out to prevent Hamilton from galloping to the chequered flag this weekend. Kimi was evidently frustrated once again with the SF71H’s lack of pace: “Bah, for us it’s a normal Friday, both in terms of the things we tried and of engine usage. We have been focusing on trying to get the best set-up for the car and towards the end of the session it felt better to drive, but for sure we have some work to do before tomorrow. I don’t know if it will be raining or not during P3 and Qualifying, we’ll have to see what the weather brings.” he quipped after FP2, as the Finnish driver was 1.28sec off Hamilton’s pace – “We’re just not fast enough now, so we’ll have to do it on Sunday. I do not have the expectation that tomorrow it will suddenly be better.” – Kimi Raikkonen admitted at the end of the second free practice session ahead of the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix.