Lewis Hamilton continued the Mercedes domination in the second free practice session ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
After topping the times in FP1, Hamilton was back at the top of the order on his first lap on the soft compound of tyres.
An incredible final sector resulted in a 1m29.005s lap before improving to set the benchmark at 1m28.991s.
Even on the super soft compound of tyres, early pace setter Sebastian Vettel couldn’t challenge Hamilton’s soft-compound time. After his first time, with a problem sector three, Vettel was 0.198s slower than the Mercedes driver.
Both Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas found massive improvements on the super soft compound. Hamilton managed a 1m28.217s lap around the Suzuka circuit, with Bottas 0.461s behind him.
Vettel ended the session 0.833s slower than Hamilton. Though the Ferrari found pace in the early race simulation towards the end of the session, it doesn’t appear to be enough to be able to challenge Mercedes.
Max Verstappen spent the entire session struggling with oversteer, but managed to keep his Red Bull on the road and finish fourth quickest, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Esteban Ocon earned best of the rest, 1.8s off Hamilton’s pace.
Romain Grossjean took eight, ahead of Marcus Ericsson and Brendon Hartley.
Hartley’s team-mate Pierre Gasly endured a difficult session. The Frenchman spent the majority of FP2 in the pits with a fuel cell issue and was only able to head out in the final 15 minutes of the 90 minute session.
With his first lap of the afternoon, he was 13th quickest, three tenths of a second behind Hartley with Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg splitting the pair.
In his short time on circuit, he once again caused a problem for the Mercedes. He was reprimanded for stopping on the inside line at the chicane and holding up Lewis Hamilton in FP1. This time it was Valtteri Bottas’ turn to almost trip over the Toro Rosso, but both drivers managed to avoid drama.
There were only a handful of run offs during the session, with no serious incidents.
Carlos Sainz Jnr was 14th, ahead of Charles Leclerc, Kevin Magnussen, and Fernando Alonso.
Sergey Sirotkin, Lance Stroll, and Stoffel Vandoorne completed the order.