Mercedes: Drivers have not got everything out of the car yet

Mercedes report from the first day of free practice of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, Round 17 of the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, at Suzuka Circuit.

  • Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport set the pace at Suzuka
  • Valtteri set the fastest time in the morning session with Lewis in P2
  • In the afternoon, Valtteri was again the fastest man on track followed by Lewis in P2
  • The team adapted its run plan for today given that all track running on Saturday will be cancelled owing to Typhoon Hagibis
  • Qualifying will be held at 10:00 local time on Sunday. If the weather conditions don’t allow for
  • Qualifying to be held, the grid the Japanese Grand Prix will be established based on the FP2 results

Valtteri Bottas: “It’s been a very positive day for us. It’s always so much fun to drive these cars on this track. I’m very happy with the car in general, it felt good from the beginning. I think we can still make some small tweaks to improve the balance of the car, but overall it felt good both on the short and the long runs.

“We used some of the tyres from Saturday today and the weather stayed nice, so we got plenty of running in which is great. We expect Sunday to be close in both qualifying and the race, so we need to keep pushing. We got an unexpected day off tomorrow but I’m sure the team will keep me busy; we’ll be digging into the data and make the most out of it.

Lewis Hamilton: It’s pretty amazing driving this track – we got a headwind through the esses in the first sector which has been great. It’s been a good day overall, we got through our programme but it’s a work in progress – there’s always time to find at this track, there’s always areas that you can improve.

“Valtteri showed some good pace and it seems we are in a good position at this point of the weekend. This is a track I really enjoy so I can’t wait to get back in the car. We’ll be analysing the data tonight and tomorrow to try and put ourselves into a good position for Sunday.

Andrew Shovlin: “It’s been more interesting than a normal Friday as we have had to adjust from the normal programme with the poor weather expected tomorrow. We’d already decided to bring a Saturday tyre set into Friday morning, even before we heard that all Saturday running was cancelled.

“That allowed us to do a bit more setup work than normal and it gave the drivers a bit more experience at low fuel. We then heard that the best times from the second session would be used to form the grid if qualifying cannot take place on Sunday morning.

“That meant we wanted to get decent times on the board so we turned the power unit up a bit and had to run lower fuel than we would normally run. The session itself was solid, the update kit we have brought here seems to be working well although neither driver felt they have got everything out of the car yet.

“We’re going to be working our normal schedule tonight so that the cars are ready for a Sunday morning qualifying when we leave here around midnight. We’ll be packing down some of the equipment tonight to avoid it getting damaged in the typhoon and making sure the cars and garage kit are safe from damage if we get a flood.

“We may not be allowed into the circuit tomorrow so that will mean having some meetings at the hotel to prepare for a very busy Sunday. It’s always quite difficult to deal with both qualifying and race in a day but the challenge is good fun and we’re looking forward to it.

“We hope everyone stays safe tomorrow and that the circuit survives the storm so we can put on a good show for the fans on Sunday.”