Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in Japanese practice

Fri Oct 3, 2014 6:32am EDT
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By Abishek Takle

SUZUKA Japan (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton was fastest in Japanese Grand Prix practice on Friday while Dutch teenager Max Verstappen became the youngest driver ever to take part in a Formula One weekend just three days after his 17th birthday.

Championship leader Hamilton, winner of the last two races, set the pace in a crash-interrupted second session after Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg had lapped quickest in the morning.

The Briton's time of one minute 35.078 seconds in the afternoon at Suzuka was more than two-tenths of a second faster than Rosberg’s best.

Mercedes, who could claim the constructors’ championship this weekend if results go their way, were again dominant with their drivers one-two in both sessions.

"It's amazing what this team has done, to be able to come to one of the most demanding circuits for downforce and be that competitive is fantastic,” said Hamilton, who leads Rosberg by three points in the standings with five races to go.

"The car didn't feel spectacular this morning, but on the option (tire) it felt really good."

Finland's Valtteri Bottas kept his Williams at the sharp end of the field, setting the third fastest time in the second session after having gone fourth quickest in the day's opening 90 minutes.

McLaren’s Jenson Button, who regards the Japanese Grand Prix as a second home race, followed the Williams by setting the fourth fastest time in his McLaren ahead of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull.   Continued...

Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain negotiates a turn during the second practice session of the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit October 3, 2014.  REUTERS/Toru Hanai