Japan GP: Practice team notes - Pirelli


Qualifying has been postponed to Sunday morning at 10:00am to try and avoid the effects of an incoming typhoon. All track activity on Saturday is cancelled: if for any reason qualifying can't take place, the FP2 times are likely to be used to set the grid as FP3 has also been scrubbed.

Mercedes has been fastest in both sessions held today, using both the medium and soft tyres. With no FP3 and weather conditions uncertain, teams focussed on both race and qualifying preparations, using the Red soft and Yellow medium tyres almost exclusively. This meant that the normal Friday programmes were slightly compromised, with teams putting in qualifying banker laps as well as long runs.

The fastest FP2 time (from Valtteri Bottas) was set on soft tyres and was more than half a second faster than the equivalent time from last year: very close to the 2018 pole.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was the next-fastest car in FP2, having shown plenty of pace straight out of the box to end up third-fastest and best of the rest.

So far, we see a performance gap of around 0.6 to 0.7 seconds between the soft and medium, with 0.8 to 0.9 seconds between medium and hard. The hardest possible nomination has been made to cope with the corners at Suzuka: C1, C2 and C3.

Mario Isola: "The postponement of qualifying and cancellation of FP3, which was absolutely the right decision under the circumstances, affected the run plans for free practice. Teams not only had to ensure a banker lap, just in case the FP2 times are used to set the grid, but also had to prepare for the race. Despite that, it's very hard to know exactly what the race conditions will be on Sunday, and how useful today's running will have turned out to be. The performance gap between the different compounds is not quite as relevant as usual: the hard compound has not been used much today, while the comparison between the soft and medium tyres was very much influenced by track evolution during FP1, as well as by teams using the soft at the end of FP2 to set a time that could form the grid, should qualifying not be held on Sunday morning. There's obviously now a big air of unpredictability about the whole weekend, which will hopefully lead to an exciting race."

Check out our Friday gallery from Suzuka, here.

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Published: 11/10/2019
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