Japanese Grand Prix – Continuing where they left off in free practice one, Mercedes once again topped the free practice time sheets, with Lewis Hamilton leading Valtteri Bottas.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a full eight-tenth gap to rival Sebastian Vettel as Mercedes once again looked in fine form at the Suzuka circuit.
Hamilton’s time of 1:28.217 was good enough to yield almost a half-second advantage over team-mate Bottas, although the Finn made a mistake on his first flying lap on the supersoft tyres, meaning the gap may well have been closer.
Vettel finished in third place, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo all within half-a-second of his time.
With Mercedes also having the advantage in the long runs, all eyes will be on Ferrari to see if they can extract more pace from their cars, which were believed to be running in a ‘conservative’ mode.
To make matters worse, both Vettel and Raikkonen were experiencing tyre blistering on their race simulations – on the supersoft and soft tyres – although they still have time to try and rectify the situation.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon appeared comfortable in seventh place, some four tenths of a second quicker than Haas’ Romain Grosjean.
Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson – who has never been out-qualified by a team-mate at Suzuka – and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley completed the top ten.
Despite Hartley’s top ten pace, there was bad news for Honda-powered Toro Rosso, who had Pierre Gasly in the garage for much of FP2 with a fuel issue.
The developments of their much-anticipated power unit upgrade appear to have gone well, but the loss of time will hamper their testing of the updates ahead of Honda’s home race.
To view the full results from the second free practice session, click here.