Hamilton and Mercedes remain dominant in FP2 at Suzuka

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It was more of the same from Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton in Friday's second free practice, with the four-time world champion keeping his team mate and his rivals at bay.

Hamilton's fastest lap in 1m28.217s provided him with a 0.461s margin over Valtteri Bottas, while Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen rounded off the top five.

2018 Japanese Grand Prix - Free Practice 2

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:28.217s31
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1:28.678s+ 0.461s30
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1:29.050s+ 0.833s36
4Max VerstappenRed Bull1:29.257s+ 1.040s32
5Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:29.498s+ 1.281s33
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1:29.513s+ 1.296s27
7Esteban OconForce India1:30.035s+ 1.818s32
8Romain GrosjeanHaas1:30.440s+ 2.223s32
9Marcus EricssonSauber1:30.478s+ 2.261s33
10Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:30.502s+ 2.285s27
11Sergio PérezForce India1:30.510s+ 2.293s28
12Nico HülkenbergRenault1:30.644s+ 2.427s36
13Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:30.795s+ 2.578s10
14Carlos SainzRenault1:30.904s+ 2.687s31
15Charles LeclercSauber1:30.906s+ 2.689s26
16Kevin MagnussenHaas1:30.956s+ 2.739s25
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1:30.988s+ 2.771s34
18Sergey SirotkinWilliams1:31.087s+ 2.870s39
19Lance StrollWilliams1:31.215s+ 2.998s32
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1:31.981s+ 3.764s32

Suzuka remained overcast as the second free practice session got underway, but with no real threat of rain fortunately.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were the first to hit the track when the light went green, the Belgian driver beginning his Japanese Grand Prix weekend in earnest after sitting out FP1 when Lando Norris occupied the seat of his MCL32.

With a deficit to make up on the impressive Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel laid down the first significant time with a 1m29.971s, with team mate Kimi Raikkonen snapping at his heels just 0.032s slower.

Mercedes, Red Bull and Gasly remained in their respective garage in the first 15 minutes of running.

While Hamilton and Bottas were still in preparation mode, the Toro Rosso driver's state of affairs appeared more alarming, his car the victim of an apparent sensor issue.

Once he got going, Hamilton lost no time in putting himself at the top of the timesheet, the Brit laying down a lap in 1m29.005s using the soft tyre and edging Vettel, Bottas, Raikkonen and the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

A change to the supersoft unsurprisingly boosted Hamilton's speed even further, giving him a comfortable cushion of 0.461s over Bottas with a lap in 1m28.217.

Meanwhile, it was once again a tight battle in the upper tier of the midfield, with Ocon, Grosjean, Ericsson and Hartley separated by less than a tenth of a second.

With just ten minutes to go and the work on his car finally complete, Pierre Gasly exited the Toro Rosso box, a lap in 1m30.795s putting him P13, between Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz.

The field blended qualifying simulations with long runs in the closing stages of the session but the running order at the front remained unchanged. And once again, McLaren and Williams made up the rear. Oh, how the giants have fallen!

So far, it's been the perfect start to the Japanese Grand Prix weekend for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, while Ferrari definitely needs to raise its game, or suffer another painful defeat.

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