It has been a damp start to proceedings in Suzuka as the weather for Friday’s two practice sessions didn’t allow Pirelli’s planned 2023 tyre test.
Heavy rain before Free Practice 1 eased midway through the session before ramping up once again in the closing stages, resulting in minimal running up and down the paddock.
Nicholas Latifi would set a best time of 1:45.424 to put him P17, with teammate Alex Albon putting in a 1:44.791 which was good enough for P15.
As was the case in FP1, both of our drivers started FP2 on the full wet compound, before switching to intermediates as the session progressed, but our duo would switch around in the standings, albeit higher up the order.
Nicky’s 1:44.962 placed him P12 with Alex just behind him in P13 after a 1:45.039 was set by the Thai driver.
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Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance, shared his thoughts after a complex afternoon of Free Practice, saying: “It has been a slightly odd day with the wet weather persisting all day, the Pirelli dry tyre testing consequently cancelled, but FP2 remaining at 90mins duration.
“With a risk of rain for Sunday, there was little appetite for running multiple sets of wet and intermediate tyres.
“Although this limited the amount of running that we could sensibly complete, we were still able to do some useful testing and start to get Alex and Nicholas into the rhythm of Suzuka.
“The weather forecast for tomorrow is for dry conditions and so we will have to start again in FP3 and understand how the Pirelli slick tyres work here.
“We should be able to apply some of the learning from today to the dry and therefore start the session in a good place.”
Nicky was getting his maiden taste of Suzuka and enjoyed what this iconic venue has to offer, sharing:
“It’s my first experience here and it’s a very fun track to drive. It’s much easier to learn a track when it’s dry as you can focus on hitting your references and not have to worry about sliding around out there.
“Even in the wet there’s still a lot of grip, so I can only imagine what it’s going to be like in the dry and hopefully we can experience that tomorrow.
“It’s yet to be seen how much of today will be useful for the coming days as there’s still a chance of rain on Sunday but unlikely for Saturday. Overall, I’m happy with today with no real issues and now our focus is on maximising the dry running for tomorrow.
Alex Albon, back in Japan for the first time since 2019, completed our Friday reaction by adding: “Even in the rain this track is amazing; I love it round here! Today wasn’t too bad and I enjoyed it.
“It’s hard to get a real feel for the car in the wet, but we were not too bad in terms of competitiveness, so we need to see what happens tomorrow when it’s dry.
“The target is a little unknown, but the simple goal is that we are aiming for Q2.”
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