Valtteri Bottas edged out Lewis Hamilton within an impressive beginning for Mercedes at the start of what is set to prove a Japanese GP weekend.
Together with the impact of Typhoon Hagibis qualifying moved until Sunday morning and meaning all Saturdays jogging was cancelled – at 2am UK time, four weeks before the race – groups have two practice sessions to prepare their automobiles.
In calm, warm and bright conditions on Friday Mercedes produced by far the fastest start with Bottas and Hamilton one second clear of the chasing bunch.
Bottas, despite a previous near-miss using Ferraris Charles Leclerc, set the pace with a 1:28.731, 0.076so clear of championship leader and four-time Suzuka victor Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel, plus a four-time winner in F1s sole figure-of-eight circuit, was third in Max Verstappens direct Red Bull along with the Ferrari ahead of Leclerc.
Since they bid to rally to the recent surge of Ferrari, mercedes trialled some upgrades.
More to follow…
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