The 17th round of the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday at Suzuka Circuit as teams prepared for the Japanese Grand Prix Sunday.
Two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile), 18-turn track were run under cloudy conditions, with Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen logging laps on one of Formula One’s most venerated venues since it joined the calendar in 1987.
Both drivers began FP1 on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire before transitioning to the Red supersoft. Grosjean’s quick time of 1:30.814 came on his 11th lap shod on supersofts. He ran 22 laps and was the eighth-fastest driver. Magnussen’s best time was a 1:31.274 on his 13th lap, also set on supersofts. He ran 28 laps and posted the 14th-quickest time. Understeer was experienced by both drivers, with a lack of grip impacting Magnussen especially.
Leading the way in FP1 was the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, with Hamilton’s fast lap of 1:28.691 nipping his teammate by .446 of a second.
Speeds picked up and lap times dropped in FP2. Grosjean wrapped FP2 as the eighth-quickest driver with a time of 1:30.440, which was .374 of a second better than his best lap in FP1. His quick time came on the 10th of his 32 laps on a set of supersoft tires. Magnussen shaved .318 of a second off his FP1 time with a lap of 1:30.956 despite being just 16th fastest. His quick lap came on his ninth tour, also while utilizing the supersoft tire. He completed 25 laps.
The two drivers ran slightly different programs in FP2, with Grosjean beginning the session on White medium tires before switching to supersofts. Magnussen mimicked his FP1 session by starting on Yellow softs before returning to supersofts. Both continued to fight understeer, with Magnussen’s plight being made worse by his inability to get a clean lap, as traffic thwarted his efforts to put an entire lap together.
Hamilton and Bottas remained atop FP2 with Hamilton’s quick time of 1:28.217 besting Bottas by .461 of a second. The Suzuka track record of 1:27.319, set last year by Hamilton in the final round of knockout qualifying, remained intact.
Between the two sessions, Haas F1 Team ran a total of 107 laps – 54 by Grosjean and 53 by Magnussen.