Is there anything more frustrating than getting up early (or just not going to sleep) to watch the F1 action from Japan and it chucks it down. Both the first and second practice sessions for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix were rain-hit and produced some unpredictable results.
The Singapore Grand Prix proved to be a disappointing one for Mercedes and the exact opposite for Ferrari. Recent improvements to the Ferrari and an unsuitable track for the Mercedes breathed a bit of life into the drivers’ championship.
Lewis Hamilton has seen his lead cut to 41 points with Sebastian Vettel a further eight points behind. The two Mercedes drivers believe that the problems they had in Singapore were specific to that track but it does appear that Ferrari have made some gains on their rivals in the past month. What has to be worrying for Mercedes is that they have had two retirements in as many races, so is there a reliability problem with their cars that could prove costly in the remaining races of the season?
Practice was important for the Mercedes team but it all ended with Lewis Hamilton declaring that he’d learnt absolutely nothing on Friday. Nico Rosberg whose Mercedes had a new engine did learn something though as the engine seemed to run ok.
Carlos Sainz in his Toro Rosso was quickest in the first practice session ahead of Red Bull’s Daniil Kyvat. Not the two you’d expect to be at the top but they did have an advantage by recording their times on lightly treaded intermediate tyres. Nico Rosberg was third fastest with Lewis Hamilton back in sixth with a time recorded on full wet tyres. With the cars on different tyres though times couldn’t really be compared.
Daniel Ricciardo, who was one of eight drivers not to set a time in first practice, believes Red Bull won’t be as effective in Japan as they were in Singapore. That lack of power in the Renault engines will again leave them struggling to keep up with Mercedes and Ferrari.
It might not be engines that are the most important factor in Japan though. If the wet weather continues then we could really be in for an interesting weekend.
The weather wasn’t much better for the second practice session. Daniil Kyvat was quickest ahead of Rosberg and Hamilton in second and third. Daniel Ricciardo was fourth with the Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen finishing fifth and sixth.
After second practice it was time for the usual interview with Lewis Hamilton. This time he wasn’t moaning that much, probably because there had been little to report. He declared that as the balance of the Mercedes will be “so much different tomorrow” what happened in first and second practice was “irrelevant.”
Thankfully the weather is due to be much better over the weekend so we’ll learn a lot more in qualifying. I’ll be back tomorrow with a blog looking back at qualifying and previewing the big race.