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Max Verstappen during free practice 2 at the Japanese Grand Prix

Japanese Grand Prix: F1 free practice 2 results

Max Verstappen was over six tenths quicker than the rest of the field in free practice 1, but will the Red Bull driver continue to dominate in free practice 2?

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Max Verstappen tops the timesheet at the end of free practice 2 at the Japanese Grand Prix

Home hero Yuki Tsunoda takes to the track for free practice 2 at the Japanese Grand Prix
Home hero Yuki Tsunoda takes to the track for free practice 2 at the Japanese Grand Prix. (Image Credit: @F1 on X)

After the Singapore Grand Prix diverted from the usual script, it was back to business as usual during free practice 1 in Suzuka. Max Verstappen set the pace in the first session in Japan, followed by Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris. But would the Dutch driver continue his domination in free practice 2?

As the light goes green for free practice 2, the grid were quick to get out on track with George Russell leading the way. Only Verstappen and Oscar Piastri remained in the pit lane during the early minutes of the free practice session. Five minutes into the session, all 20 drivers were out on track.

With only Verstappen and Piastri left to set a time, Valtteri Bottas set the early pace with a 1:33.163, followed by Sergio Perez and Alex Albon. Piastri’s first attempt was good enough for P2 before Verstappen completed his first lap which saw him jump to the top of the timesheet with a 1:31.377. But the reigning world champion’s time was set using the soft tyre, and Verstappen was the only driver using that compound at the time.

Traffic for Kevin Magnussen and Bottas locks up

Haas driver Magnussen was on an early push lap when he came across Sainz. The Danish driver didn’t commit to the corner, a decision that pushed him into the path of the Ferrari. The two drivers came very close to each other, with Magnussen giving Sainz a thumbs up. Whilst that altercation took place, the Alfa Romeo of Bottas significantly locked up.

Both Mercedes drivers left the pits with soft tyres. Russell’s first attempt on the softest compound took him to P3 with a 1:32.054. While Lewis Hamilton was down in P6 with a 1:32.245, after his soft tyre run. As both Mercedes were pushing on their first laps on the softs, Verstappen completed his second lap on his soft tyres, but could not improve.

At the halfway mark

Heading towards the 30 minute mark, more drivers were opting for the soft tyre. But at the halfway point, it was Charles Leclerc at the top of the timesheet having set a 1:31.008. Norris, Sainz, Verstappen, Alex Albon, Piastri, Perez, Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg, and Russell rounded out the top 10. Hamilton was down in P13, with home hero Yuki Tsunoda in P16.

After setting his first soft tyre time, Fernando Alonso jumped up to P5 from P15. Verstappen took a second set of soft tyres, and became the first driver in the one minute 30’s with a 1:30.688. Meanwhile, Magnussen had another close call, this time with the AlphaTauri of Liam Lawson.

Hamilton opted to complete his second competitive lap on the soft tyre later on compared to the other drivers. But his second attempt was only good enough for P14 with a 1:31.829.

Long run tyre stints and issues for Zhou Guanyu

Following the early excitement of the fresh soft tyre runs, the 19 drivers settled in for long runs. However, one driver was missing out on track. Zhou was stuck in the pit lane with less than 20 minutes to go. The Chinese driver’s car was suffering with a reported brake problem, with his mechanics blocking the front of his pit garage. Would this spell the end of the Alfa Romeo driver’s time in free practice 2?

The answer is no. With some quick work from the Alfa Romeo team, the Chinese driver took to the track once more with over five minutes to go. But Zhou was quickly called back to the pits after one lap.

The red flag brings a premature end to free practice 2

Pierre Gasly locked up going into Degner 2 and went through the gravel and into the barriers. With just over two minutes left on the clock, race control opted to bring the session to an early end, with significant damage to both the Alpine car and the barriers.

The final results of free practice 2

As the clock ticked down to zero under red flag conditions, Verstappen finished the session at the top of the timesheet with a 1:30.688. Leclerc, Norris, Sainz, Russell, Alonso, Albon, Piastri, Perez, and Bottas rounded out the top 10. Hamilton appeared to have struggled during the session and finished in P14. While Lawson outperformed his teammate again, with the 2023 rookie in P15 and Tsunoda in P18.

Feature Image Credit: @F1 on X

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