NICO ROSBERG SETS FASTEST TIME FOR MERCEDES IN BOTH SESSIONS ON THE SOFT COMPOUND

POSSIBILITY OF RAIN TOMORROW THROWS ANOTHER VARIABLE INTO STRATEGY CALCULATIONS

At the very start of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, Suzuka is usually ‘green’ and slippery: today was no exception as the drivers got to grips with the three nominated compounds at one of the most demanding venues of the year.

There was very little rubber on the track during FP1, where Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg led home his team mate Lewis Hamilton on the soft tire. The same pattern was repeated in FP2 with Rosberg getting his time down to 1m32.250s.

The afternoon session took place in track temperatures of 33 degrees, with the teams using each session to assess their long-run pace on different tires and fuel loads, as well as carrying out qualifying simulations. So far, around 1.5 seconds seems to be the performance gap between the medium tire and the soft tire.

One variable in the strategy calculations could come from the weather, with rain predicted for tomorrow. If it does rain during the weekend, the work carried out today might be less relevant, with teams having to extrapolate strategies for qualifying and the race according to the prevailing conditions.

In order to have a read of all the compounds, in case rain limits dry running tomorrow, it was important for the teams to try every tire today. The high working range hard tire in particular proved especially suited to the demands of Suzuka.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “The drivers experienced quite slippery conditions at the beginning of free practice. This improved as more rubber was laid on the surface. Continuing the pattern that we have seen frequently this season, last year’s pole time was already beaten in FP1, but with rain due tomorrow, we are likely to see a different type of challenge in qualifying. Today there was a lot of work on the hard compound, which seems to be a very good race tire in these conditions. However if we experience cooler conditions on Sunday, then the track could swing back towards the medium compound.”

FP1 – TIMES FP2 – TIMES
Rosberg 1m32.431s Soft New Rosberg 1m32.250s Soft New
Hamilton 1m32.646s Soft New Hamilton 1m32.322s Soft New
Vettel 1m33.525s Soft Used Raikkonen 1m32.573s Soft New


FP1 – BEST TIME PER COMPOUND

Hard Ricciardo 1m35.299s
Medium Ricciardo 1m34.112s
Soft Rosberg 1m32.431s


FP2 – BEST TIME PER COMPOUND

Hard Hamilton 1m33.475s
Medium Rosberg 1m33.758s
Soft Rosberg 1m32.250s


MOST LAPS BY COMPOUND

Hard Sainz 24 laps
Medium Palmer 24
Soft Kyvat 22
Magnussen 22


Tire statistics of the day:

Hard Medium Soft
kms driven * 1898 2426 2548
sets used overall ** 25 32 36
highest number of laps ** 24 24 22

* The above number gives the total amount of kilometers driven in FP1 and FP2 today, all drivers combined.
** Per compound, all drivers combined.


Minimum prescribed tire pressures
: 22.5 psi (fronts); 21 psi (rears)


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