Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was almost half a second quicker than team-mate Valtteri Bottas in FP1. He was also over six tenths faster than title rival Sebastian Vettel, despite being on the more durable medium tyres.
However, the Brit had a near-miss with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly which could have ended disastrously for the Silver Arrows driver.
Hamilton’s quick-thinking at the final chicane forced him to leave the road to avoid a crash as Gasly eased off the gas.
The pair were hauled to explain the incident to the stewards after FP1 and their investigation led to Gasly being reprimanded.
The 22-year-old was was charged with ‘driving unnecessarily slowly’ and ‘impeding’ Hamilton.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is hoping to extend his 50-point gap to Vettel in Suzuka this weekend.
However, he still expects Ferrari to be right on his tail come lights out.
“No it has not raised my eyebrows,” Hamilton said of Ferrari’s poor pace.
“We were definitely not expecting them to be as fast we were in the last race. I think our car worked really well.
“It is difficult to know how much were have improved as opposed to have they stood still or gone backwards. We have no idea.
“Maybe we will have a better understanding here because we expect it to be closer.
“I can’t wait to drive around this track because it is going to be the fastest we have ever driven here in Suzuka.”
So far, despite the hiccup with Gasly, Lewis Hamilton is still dominating the proceedings. In FP1, he led from teammate Valtteri Bottas, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and both Ferraris. Meanwhile, in FP2, it was a Mercedes 1-2 again, with Vettel 3rd and Verstappen 4th. Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo propped up the tail end of the top 6.
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 5, 2018