Vettel quickest as rain lashes Suzuka
07 Oct 2017 - 0:35
Suzuka, Japan: Sebastian Vettel was quickest in free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix yesterday with the Ferrari driver’s morning effort never coming under threat in a rain-shortened afternoon session that saw only five men completed timed laps.
The opening day of track action at the Suzuka Circuit got underway beneath overcast skies with specks of rain turning into heavy drizzle towards the end of the opening 90 minutes of practice.
Vettel set the pace in that session with a one minute, 29.166 second lap, edging out his Formula One championship rival Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes at the top of the timesheets.
The rain became heavier through the afternoon and was positively lashing the 5.8km circuit by the time the clock ticked down to signal the start of the second 90-minute session.
Originally scheduled to begin at 0500 GMT, the start of the session was delayed by 45 minutes as drains overflowed and rivers of water coursed down inclines at the undulating track.
World championship leader Hamilton went fastest in that session, setting a time of one minute, 48.719 seconds, kicking up a dense mist of spray as he toured the circuit, nearly 20 seconds off Vettel’s morning best on a dry track.
The Force India pair of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, and Williams duo Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were the only other cars brave enough to attempt a flying lap.
The 18-year-old rookie Stroll was briefly caught out by the conditions, running wide and skirting the barriers before rejoining the track without causing damage to his car.
The Canadian’s excursion elicited a rare smile from Kimi Raikkonen but neither the Finn nor his team mate Vettel set a time, both completing just a sole installation lap.