October 11th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had a mixed Friday in Japan, starting off by leading the field in first practice, but then slipping back and struggling with their tyres in FP2.
In FP1, Hamilton was fastest, a third of a second ahead of Rosberg and six tenths of a second faster than Sebastian Vettel in the leading Red Bull. In the second session, things didn't quite all go the way of Mercedes, however. and while Rosberg managed to be third fastest in FP2, Hamilton slipped to sixth fastest, going slower than his best effort from FP1 in the process.
Ross Brawn mentioned towards the end of FP2 that both drivers had struggled with brake locking which was flat-spotting their tyres and causing worsening vibrations around the circuit. That could be partly to blame for their apparent drop in performance from FP1 to FP2.
Despite seeming to lose ground to Red Bull in the afternoon session, Rosberg and Hamilton are happy with their Silver Arrows and are confident they can have a strong weekend. This is what they had to say after Friday practice:
Nico Rosberg: "The track here at Suzuka is such great fun to drive and our car was feeling fantastic around it today. We were quite fast over one lap and on the long runs but the important thing is how we manage the tyres as that will be the key to success here. There's a lot of work ahead of us but I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend and I hope we can annoy the Red Bulls a little bit."
Lewis Hamilton: "This track is so beautiful to drive, it's fast and flowing, and our car really does feel good here. But it's also a very unforgiving and challenging circuit; you're always on the limit so the trick is to balance and control that limit. I'm happy with where our car is after the first practice sessions today although, of course, we would love to be more competitive. We've got some work to do this evening on the tyre management in particular. It's too early to think about what we can achieve but I'm looking forward to a competitive qualifying tomorrow and then we will have to see what we can do in the race."