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Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix 2024

Verstappen sits in the garage, Piastri quickest as rain wrecks Japanese GP FP2

The second practice session was ruined by rain, leading to six drivers failing to take to the track.

Piastri Japan FP1
To news overview © XPBimages

Rain wrecked the second practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix as six drivers did not even take to the Suzuka circuit given the conditions.

The hour was hit-and-miss with the weather. Sadly, rain had passed over the track around half an hour beforehand, resulting in the teams opting not to run until the track began to dry given the forecast for the remainder of the weekend is for fine weather.

Throughout the 60 minutes that followed, rain breezed in and out, leaving the teams playing a guessing game as to whether to run or not.

With 14 minutes elapsed, Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton was the first on track on Pirelli's medium-compound tyres, albeit the seven-time F1 champion conducted nothing more than an out-lap and an in-lap before returning to the garage.

Daniel Ricciardo followed suit, more out of necessity after sitting out FP1 for Ayumu Iwasa, but no sooner had the RB driver taken to the circuit than the rain returned, forcing the Australian to gingerly complete what proved to be nothing more than a sole installation lap.

After another 15-minute pause, McLaren opted to send out Oscar Piastri on a set of inters but again for what was simply a sighter, albeit radioing back to the team that "it's not that wet".

The danger there for all concerned was that in such conditions the green-striped rubber would quickly degrade.

Despite that, Stake's Zhou Guanyu and Valtteri Bottas, along with home hero Yuki Tsunoda in his RB, and team-mate Ricciardo all ventured out.

Tsunoda even went for a push lap, posting a time of 1:42.304s, 12.3 seconds slower than Max Verstappen's leading time from FP1. Ricciardo crossed the line soon after, albeit 4.157s behind the Japanese. On their second quick laps, Tsunoda clocked 1:40.946s, with the Australian closing the gap to 0.967s.

Surprisingly, given the circumstances, Williams allowed Alex Albon to hit the track, despite being down to one car again after Logan Sargeant's crash in FP1. Minutes before the second session started, the team announced the American would not participate due to damage sustained.

After completing five and six laps respectively, Tsunoda and Ricciardo returned to the garage, leaving the track clear again with 20 minutes remaining.

As the rain eased and the track began to slowly dry, with less than 10 minutes remaining Zhou and Bottas returned on inters, but again they soon returned to the pits.

Albon and Haas pair Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen also ventured back out, the latter doing a recce on softs but quickly recognising the circuit was not dry enough to experiment so wildly.

McLaren, though, felt softs were the way to go as Piastri was allowed to run on the red-striped tyres, leading to the Australian setting a time of 1:39.105s, 1.841s quicker than Tsunoda. On the following lap, Piastri lowered the benchmark to 1:36.862s.

Continuing to tour, the Australian then set a time of 1:34.725s, with Hamilton finishing 0.501s adrift.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc also completed a timed lap of 1:38.760s, four seconds down on Piastri, followed by a flurry of times - albeit slow - from a range of other drivers.

Six drivers opted not to emerge from the garage at all in Verstappen, Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, along with Alpine's Pierre Gasly, Aston Martin duo Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, and George Russell in his Mercedes.

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