Rain was the dominant factor on the first day of Formula 1’s return to Suzuka. Both free practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix were held in the wet. There was an additional half hour of track time in the second one, instigated to give teams time to try some 2023 specification Pirelli dry weather compounds, which was rendered impossible on the wet track. It meant the extra minutes were not that relevant, given that it is expected to be dry for tomorrow’s qualifying, with only a very slight chance of rain for the race. Charles completed just 25 laps, while Carlos made the most of the wet conditions to compare the Intermediate and Wet tyre performance, acquiring some useful data for the team.
FP1. There was no sign of the two F1-75s on track until almost 15 minutes into the session. Carlos and Charles started off on full wets, before switching to Intermediates in the middle of the hour, when the rain had eased off slightly. The Spaniard was second fastest in a time of 1’42”563, just a few thousandths quicker than his team-mate who posted a 1’42”634. Carlos did 15 laps and Charles completed 16.
FP2. In the second session, Carlos was sixth fastest while Charles was 11th. Once again, the Spaniard tried both types of wet weather tyre, while the Monegasque waited a while for track conditions to improve before going out just on Intermediates. His best lap, out of a total of ten was a 1’44”709. Sainz did 23, his quickest being a 1’43”204.
A lot of work. The Scuderia can expect a very busy day tomorrow, preparing the cars for both qualifying and the race, which is due to be run on a dry track. It is therefore almost a case of starting from scratch in the third free practice session, which begins at 12 local (5 CEST) with all that entails in terms of the workload. Qualifying gets underway at 15 (8 CEST).
Carlos Sainz #55
"It’s been a very wet Friday, which normally means not a lot of running, but today the conditions were stable and we were able to test both the Intermediates and the Wet tyres. We’ve managed to learn a couple of things in these wet conditions so overall we can say it’s been a productive Friday. Now it’s time to prepare for qualifying tomorrow."
Charles Leclerc #16
"Overall, it was a good first day on track in terms of performance. While FP1 went well and I had a good feeling in the car, I can’t say much about FP2 as my tyres were completely worn out. The weather tomorrow should be quite different to what we saw today, so FP3 will be a very important session for us to adapt to the conditions as quickly as possible in preparation for qualifying."