Max Verstappen dominates second practice in Suzuka as Gasly crashes

Max Verstappen dominates second practice in Suzuka as Gasly crashes

Max Verstappen set the fastest lap time for the second consecutive session as Pierre Gasly crashed at the very end of the second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka on Friday.

Two-time world champion Max Verstappen finished first in the second practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc coming in second.

The Red Bull driver was the only driver to complete a lap time under 1’31 and once again posted the fastest time in second practice. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was three tenths slower placing second as Lando Norris finished third for McLaren.

Drivers started the second practice session under the same conditions that they had earlier in the day for the first session. The second session offered teams the chance to experiment with Pirelli’s prototype 2024 C2 compound tyres, and several drivers chose to use the tyres towards the start of the second hour of the practice.

Setting the early standard with a 1’33.163 on the experimental tyres, Valtteri Bottas was far behind Verstappen’s leading time from the opening session. The world champion was the last driver to hit the track, but he did so on soft tyres and used them to beat his personal best time from the first hour with a 1’31.377.

Kevin Magnussen nearly lost it by beginning a push lap and finding Carlos Sainz Jr. off the pace at the exit of the first turn. To avoid hitting the Ferrari, the Haas driver had to make an evasive maneuver.

After regaining speed, Sainz moved his Ferrari into second place on medium tyres, where he remained until teammate Leclerc outperformed him by three tenths, trailing Verstappen’s best by three more tenths.

Soon, more and more drivers started using soft tyres. George Russell changed to fresh soft tyres and ended up splitting the Ferraris in his first attempt to place third, as the soft rubber also allowed Lando Norris to improve his time by two tenths.

Then, Leclerc set the day’s fastest time with a 1’31.008 to go first among everyone, but Verstappen outpaced him by three tenths to reclaim the top spot. Verstappen was the first driver to get past the 1’31 barrier with a 1’30.688.

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Teams concentrated on race preparations for the remainder of the practice after the soft tyre laps. However, in the final seconds of the hour, Pierre Gasly crashed his Alpine and brought out the red flags after he locked up while braking for the second Degner, raced off the track, and ended up hitting the wall.

The session was basically over with only a few minutes left and no post-session practice starts were granted.

Charles Leclerc took second three tenths of a second adrift of Verstappen while his team-mate Carlos Sainz ended up fourth quickest as McLaren’s Lando Norris split the Ferrari duo in third.

Mercedes had a quiet start to the weekend at Suzuka. Lewis Hamilton had a challenging session on his way to 14th after asking the team to check his floor early on. George Russell, however, produced a fast enough lap time to claim fifth.

Fernando Alonso was sixth fastest for Aston Martin, eight tenths of a second slower than Verstappen’s record. Meanwhile, his teammate Lance Stroll made a comeback after suffering a terrible crash during qualifying in Singapore.

The Canadian had a decent day, finishing 22 laps in Free Practice 2 with a P11 effort at his best.

Despite only using one set of soft tyres, Sergio Perez could only produce the ninth quickest time, 1.022 seconds slower than his Red Bull colleague. This comes after the Mexican driver lamented the balance of his car during the first practice.

Esteban Ocon placed eleventh and Pierre 19th in the challenging Friday Practice at Suzuka to kick up Alpine’s Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Home hero Yuki Tsunoda finished in 18th place despite delivering a great performance in the first session. His AlphaTauri teammate Liam Lawson kept up his impressive performance by finishing the session three positions higher in the rankings and 0.037s faster than his Japanese teammate.

2023 Japanese Grand Prix Free Practice 2 Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:30.68819
216Charles LeclercFerrari1:31.008+0.320s23
34Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:31.152+0.464s22
455Carlos SainzFerrari1:31.237+0.549s22
563George RussellMercedes1:31.328+0.640s22
614Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:31.492+0.804s22
723Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:31.555+0.867s23
881Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:31.662+0.974s22
911Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:31.710+1.022s24
1077Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:31.739+1.051s22
1118Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:31.771+1.083s22
1231Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:31.794+1.106s22
1327Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:31.797+1.109s24
1444Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:31.829+1.141s21
1540Liam LawsonAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:32.141+1.453s23
1624Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:32.165+1.477s16
1720Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:32.169+1.481s23
1822Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:32.178+1.490s26
1910Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:32.179+1.491s22
202Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:32.320+1.632s25

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