Event: Japanese Grand Prix
Track: Suzuka Circuit

Weather: dry  28°C
Tarmac: dry  39°C
Humidity : 63%
Wind : 3 km/h W
Pressure: 1006 mbar

FP2 Report: Verstappen Dominates as Hamilton Struggles in Suzuka

The action-packed Friday afternoon in Suzuka for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen dominate the second practice session (FP2), leading Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and McLaren's Lando Norris. The surprises were plentiful, and the action certainly didn't disappoint as teams and drivers tried to make the most out of Pirelli's prototype tires.

Verstappen Shines with Red Bull Upgrades

Max Verstappen emerged as the leader, posting a quick 1m 30.688s lap, clearing Charles Leclerc by 0.320s. It was an extraordinary performance that followed Red Bull's struggle in Singapore. The Dutchman's success can be partially attributed to a new floor edge that the team experimented with, indicating that Red Bull's engineering team has learned valuable lessons from their previous races.

Ferrari and McLaren Continue Fierce Rivalry

Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc kept the promise of a McLaren vs. Ferrari battle alive. Leclerc's late burst of speed landed him in P2, just ahead of Norris. Carlos Sainz also showed good pace, making it clear that Red Bull will not have an easy weekend if Ferrari and McLaren have anything to say about it.

Mercedes Struggles Remain a Mystery

While George Russell managed a respectable P5, Lewis Hamilton continued to struggle. The seven-time champion clocked in at a disappointing P14, raising questions about Mercedes' competitive form for the weekend. The team's reluctance to use the soft tires early on made it difficult to judge their true pace, but it's evident that Hamilton's struggle in qualifying trim persists.

Halfway Order FP2

Halfway the session the top 10 drivers all had set their lap time on a set of Soft PIrelli tyres and the order was: 1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:31.008, 2. Lando Norris (McLaren) +0.144, 3. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.229, 4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.369 , 5. Alex Albon (Williams) +0.547, 6. Oscar Piastri (McLaren) +0.654, 7. Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) +0.702, 8. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) +0.731, 9. NIco Hulkenberg (Haas) +0.789 & 10. George Russell (Mercedes) +1.046.

Piastri Impresses; Perez Needs More Time

Oscar Piastri's F1 journey is gathering speed; the rookie driver managed to slot into a solid P7 during the session. On the other end, Sergio Perez's struggles continued as he landed in P6, a considerable distance behind his teammate Verstappen.

Gasly Crashes, Session Ends with Red Flag

With just a few minutes left on the clock, Pierre Gasly had a mishap at Degner 2, making contact with the barriers and bringing out the red flags, effectively ending the session. The Frenchman was unhurt but left with a damaged car and a lot of work for his team ahead of Saturday's activities.

Pirelli's Tyre Conundrum

All teams got a taste of next year's prototype medium rubber, thanks to Pirelli’s extra sets for FP1 and FP2. Russell's feedback suggested high degradation on the softs, raising questions about tire strategy for Sunday’s race.

Weather & Strategy

With an almost Singapore-like humidity and a slight risk of rain, tire degradation seems to be more severe than anticipated. Suzuka usually leans towards a one-stop or a two-stop strategy, and the teams will have to account for tire wear as they fine-tune their race plans.

A Tight Midfield Battle Ahead

The timesheet indicated a very tight midfield battle, with a tiny gap separating several drivers. Zhou suffered a hydraulic issue, leaving the Alfa Romeo garage with work to do overnight.

Final Thoughts

In summary, FP2 delivered high-octane action and set the stage for an exciting weekend of racing at Suzuka. With Verstappen looking strong, and the pack closely bunched behind, this year's Japanese Grand Prix promises to be a memorable affair.

Quickest Sector Times

The quickest sector times were:

  • Sector 1: 31.505 sec. by Max Verstappen (Red Bull RB19)
  • Sector 2: 40.831 sec. by Charles Leclerc (Ferrari SF-23)
  • Sector 3: 18.113 sec. by Logan Sargeant (Williams FW45)

1:41,935 min was the quickest lap time in a wet FP2 of last year, set by George Russell in the Mercedes W14.

FP2 Times Table 2023 Japanese GP

P No Driver Team Time 1st Gap Laps Tyres
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:30,688 19 S
2 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31,008 +0,320s 23 S
3 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:31,152 +0,464s 22 S
4 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:31,237 +0,549s 22 S
5 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:31,328 +0,640s 22 S
6 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:31,492 +0,804s 22 S
7 23 Alex Albon Williams 1:31,555 +0,867s 23 S
8 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:31,662 +0,974s 22 S
9 11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:31,710 +1,022s 24 S
10 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:31,739 +1,051s 22 S
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:31,771 +1,083s 22 S
12 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:31,794 +1,106s 22 S
13 27 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:31,797 +1,109s 24 S
14 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31,829 +1,141s 21 S
15 40 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 1:32,141 +1,453s 23 S
16 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:32,165 +1,477s 16 S
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:32,169 +1,481s 23 S
18 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:32,178 +1,490s 26 S
19 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:32,179 +1,491s 22 S
20 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:32,320 +1,632s 25 S

✅ Check out our 2023 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix preview.

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