Valtteri Bottas recovered from spinning on the run to Suzuka’s start/finish straight to continue setting the pace as Mercedes dominated second practice for Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Bottas was preparing to start the first flying lap of his qualifying simulation runs when he looped his W10 through the kink that follows the final chicane.
He continued but could only lap just under half a second down on Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who set the pace on those first qualifying simulation runs despite having his own effort interrupted by Bottas spinning.
Hamilton improved fractionally from a 1m27.896s lap to a 1m27.885s best on his second set of tyres, before Bottas jumped to the top of the timesheet with a 1m27.785s effort.
No one else managed to lap faster than 1m28s. Max Verstappen’s Red Bull-Honda was best of the rest, almost three tenths of a second down on Bottas.
The session could turn out to have decided the Japanese GP grid, if potential rain means qualifying cannot take place in its rescheduled time on Sunday morning.
All Saturday activities have already been cancelled due to the imminent arrival of super typhoon Hagibis.
Ferrari elected to leave it until the very end of the session for its drivers to do their second qualifying simulation runs.
Charles Leclerc improved from sixth to fourth quickest with a lap less than a tenth slower than Verstappen’s best that also displaced Sebastian Vettel to fifth.
Vettel was just under six tenths slower than Bottas, while Alex Albon managed to split the Ferraris initially before slipping to sixth, just over six tenths off the pace.
Carlos Sainz Jr continued to lead the way among the midfield runners, his McLaren almost three tenths faster than the Racing Point of Sergio Perez and six and a half tenths down on Albon’s Red Bull-Honda.
Pierre Gasly made a late leap up to ninth for Toro Rosso, as Lando Norris rounded out the top 10.
Renault endured a difficult second session while continuing to evaluate a front wing upgrade and its cars were only 17th and 18th.
Robert Kubica narrowly edged George Russell in the battle of the two Williams drivers, lapping just over half a second off Hulkenberg and 0.155s faster than Russell.
Practice two times
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Honda||1m28.066s||0.281s||24|
|6||Alexander Albon||Red Bull/Honda||1m28.402s||0.617s||34|
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||McLaren/Renault||1m29.051s||1.266s||29|
|8||Sergio Perez||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m29.299s||1.514s||28|
|9||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m29.354s||1.569s||34|
|11||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m29.477s||1.692s||29|
|12||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Honda||1m29.512s||1.727s||35|
|14||Lance Stroll||Racing Point/Mercedes||1m29.597s||1.812s||27|
|15||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo/Ferrari||1m29.651s||1.866s||33|