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Red flag ends session as F1 champion TOILS in Japanese Grand Prix practice

Red flag ends session as F1 champion TOILS in Japanese Grand Prix practice

F1 News

Red flag ends session as F1 champion TOILS in Japanese Grand Prix practice

Red flag ends session as F1 champion TOILS in Japanese Grand Prix practice

Max Verstappen once again topped the timesheets in FP2 at the Japanese Grand Prix, before a red flag ended the session early after Pierre Gasly crashed into the barriers.

The largely incident-free session, which was the first real indication as to where each team is at this weekend, was dominated by Verstappen who managed to finish 0.320 seconds ahead of second-placed Charles Leclerc.

Lando Norris came home in third after looking very strong on the soft tyres, with the other Ferrari of Carlos Sainz in fourth ahead of Mercedes' George Russell and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes, however, struggled to make an impression.

Verstappen making up for Singapore

Red Bull look to be much stronger than they were in Singapore

The world championship leader looks like a man with a point to prove following a disappointing weekend last time out in Singapore, where he was off the pace all weekend.

He has been by far the fastest driver in the first two practice sessions, and will be looking to claim his first pole position since the Dutch GP on Saturday.

Red Bull hope to clinch the constructors' world championship this weekend, and Verstappen's pace will give them great confidence that they can do that, despite Perez's uninspiring performance.

Battle for front row hotting up

Behind Verstappen, there looks to be a huge scrap for the front two rows once again, with the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz going quick, and Norris flying along nicely in the McLaren.

Norris' team-mate Piastri also looked strong, as he celebrates signing a new contract that will keep him with the team until the end of 2026.

Perez was over a second off the pace but, with Red Bull looking much stronger than they were in Singapore, expect him to be in the mix too.

READ MORE: McLaren announce HUGE contract extension for rising star driver

Mercedes seemingly off the pace

Having been supremely quick last weekend in their challenge for both pole position and the race win, Mercedes are once again showing their inconsistencies, with their car clearly off the pace at Suzuka.

They finished 13th and 16th in FP1 and, although a good lap from Russell put him in the top five, Hamilton found himself down in 14th.

Japanese Grand Prix FP2 practice results - Friday September 22

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull): 1:30.688s

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari): +0.320s

3. Lando Norris (McLaren): +0.464s

4. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari): +0.549s

5. George Russell (Mercedes): +0.640s

6. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin): +0.804s

7. Alex Albon (Williams): +0.867s

8. Oscar Piastri (McLaren): +0.974s

9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull): +1.022s

10. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo): +1.051s

11. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin): +1.083s

12. Esteban Ocon (Alpine): +1.106s

13. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas): +1.109s

14. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): +1.141s

15. Liam Lawson (AlphaTauri): +1.453s

16. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo): +1.477s

17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas): +1.481s

18. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri): +1.490s

19. Pierre Gasly (Alpine): +1.491s

20. Logan Sargeant (Williams): +1.632s

READ MORE: Unstoppable Verstappen is a MAJOR PROBLEM for F1

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