It was another day of domination for the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton shared out the free practice sessions on Friday at the Suzuka circuit in Japan. No one was within a second of their best time in the afternoon, while only Fernando Alonso was able to get within that bracket in the morning.
Hamilton played second fiddle to Rosberg in the first free practice session but assumed control in the afternoon’s session. The Briton praised his team for giving him a competitive car straight from the box, and insists he cannot wait to get to the race on Sunday, regardless of the weather.
“The gap changes from track to track between us and other cars but it looks pretty good so far this weekend,” insisted Hamilton. “To come here at one of the most demanding tracks for downforce and to be that competitive is fantastic.
“It’s amazing what this team has done. The pace looks good but it’s a track that’s very hard on tyres, especially the rears; one minute you have the one lap pace and one minute you have the long run pace, so it’s a very fine line.
“Qualifying is going to be very important as it’s quite difficult to overtake here. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the weather this weekend; it’s such a challenging circuit but we always come to the weekend prepared for everything. I just want to race.”
Team-mate Rosberg ended FP1 on top but slipped to second in the afternoon, but felt it was a very positive day for the team, with good pace over one lap and over a long run on high fuel. Although he feels the balance is still not as he wants it to be, the German is confident of a good race on Sunday.
“That was a very, very good day for us,” insisted Rosberg. “Thank you to the team for this great car, we are very quick on one lap and also on high fuel levels. My long run was very good this afternoon, so I’m quite confident for a good race here.
“There is still a lot of work to do tonight to find the perfect balance for this great old school track. It was a real pleasure to drive this fantastic track here today. Also the atmosphere is great, lots of fans are here already and they are very enthusiastic.”