Suzuka Practice 1: Button heads Hamilton as McLaren dominates
5 October, 2012
Oct.5 (Apex) Last year’s Japanese GP winner Jenson Button signaled his intent early on by claiming the fastest lap in the first session of the weekend at Suzuka.
At the end of the first ninety minutes of free practice, the McLaren driver’s best time of 1 minute 34.507 seconds was enough to give him top spot on the timing screens, 0.233 seconds faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Mark Webber was best of the rest, with the third best time, the Red Bull driver uncharacteristically showing strong pace early on in the weekend.
Making it four Mercedes powered cars in the top five were Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher who were fourth and fifth respectively. Rosberg’s car came to a halt on the side of the track, on the exit of Turn 3, at the very end of the session with an oil pressure problem.
Kamui Kobayashi’s home ground advantage seemed to inspire the Sauber driver, who ended the session the morning seventh fastest and best of the Ferrari powered brigade.
Fractionally slower, in eighth, was Felipe Massa in his Ferrari.
Up next were the Force India pair of Paul di Resta in eighth and Nico Hulkenberg ninth best. Mercedes power is clearly the unit to have on the challenging, high speed Suzuka layout.
Pastor Maldonado rounded out the top ten in the Williams.
Out of the top ten were the main championship contenders with Fernando Alonso 11th fastest in the Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel down in 17th in the Red Bull while Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen ended the session 13th.
Red Bull were trying a variety of new parts including a new front wing and modified rear suspension on the Red Bull RB8.
Lotus were evaluating a top speed enhancing gizmo, not part of the DRS, which apparently stalls the wing automatically at high speed and thus provides extra straight line speed.
Despite the tricky nature of Suzuka, especially on the opening morning when the track is at its greenest, there were no major incidents, although Sergio Perez did have a dusty moment exiting R130.
Again it is an incredibly close top half of the timing screens, with the top dozen drivers separated by a tad over one second.
Reserve driver Valtteri Bottas (Williams) and Giedo van der Garde (Caterham) were in action, in place of Bruno Senna and Heikki Kovalainen and finished the session 18th and 23rd respectively.
Subbed by AJN.
Japanese GP Free Practice 1, Suzuka – Friday, 5 October 2012
|3||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:34.856||0.349||24|
|8||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:35.299||0.792||18|
|9||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:35.474||0.967||22|
|17||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:36.366||1.859||23|
|23||20||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:39.374||4.867||22|
|24||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:39.688||5.181||19|
- Monza Practice 2: Hamilton tops as McLaren dominates and Ferrari chases
- Valencia Practice 3: Button finds his way back to the top of the timing screens
- Barcelona Practice 2: Button leads the way at the end of the first day
- Shanghai Practice 3: Hamilton fastest from Button
- Melbourne Practice 1: Button quickest from Hamilton