Lewis Hamilton finishes ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in first Japanese Grand Prix practice
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News October 5, 2018 Updated: 1:05 AM PT
SUZUKA, Japan — Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton continues his strong form after finishing on the top of the timesheets in the morning practice session ahead of this Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix
Hamilton walks into the weekend after taking another step forward in his quest for a fifth world championship after winning last weeks Russian Grand Prix.
“Every time we come to Suzuka, particularly over the last few years, the cars just get faster and faster, it’s incredible. They don’t make tracks like this anymore – there’s very little room for runoff, a little touch of the grass and you’re off in the wall. Suzuka has to be one of my favorite circuits, if not the favorite one, it’s very cool. Especially the first and second sectors are insane, the first section is the best roller coaster ride that I’ve felt in a Formula One car. The balance was in quite a nice place, so I was just enjoying it,” said Hamilton.
The reigning world champion spent the morning session utilizing the medium (white stripe) and soft (yellow stripe) tire finishing with a time of 1:28.691 just 0.446s ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas who spend most of time on track running on the medium tire while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo finished up the top three.
Ferrari heads into another crucial weekend as they continue to lose ground to Mercedes in the constructors championship. Drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel spent the entire session running on the super soft tire with Raikkonen finishing fourth and Vettel fifth. Vettel had an off track moment after locking up causing him to overshoot the apex at Turn 16 during his flying lap.
Ricciardo’s Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen finished sixth with stints on the soft and super soft (red stripe) tire.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon finished seventh ahead of the Haas of Romain Grosjean in eighth. Sauber, who has had a strong showing this season with a number points scoring finishes, saw drivers Charles Leclerc and teammate Marcus Ericsson finish the opening session in ninth and tenth.
Pierre Gasly finished 11th after nearly being rear ended by Lewis Hamilton at Turn 16 as the Frenchman slowed to a crawl forcing Hamilton to quickly move out of the way to avoid the collision.
Carlos Sainz finished 12th after running devices called aero-rakes, which are designed to gather aerodynamic data, on the rear of his car.
Sergio Pérez ended the morning 13th in the second Force India while Grosjean’s Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen took 14th.
Nico Hulkenberg finished 15th ahead of the Williams of Lance Stroll in 16th. Brendon Hartley finished 17th for Toro Rosso. Fernando Alonso, who took a short trip into the gravel after losing his car when his left rear wheel touched the grass at Turn 8 during his run on the medium tire, ended the morning in 18th.
Stroll’s teammate Sergey Sirotkin finished 19th. Lando Norris finished 20th after getting some more time on the track, taking over for Stoffel Vandoorne who he will replace next season at McLaren.