SUZUKA, Japan — Sebastian Vettel led teammate Mark Webber in a Red Bull one-two in during the second practice session Friday for the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuitland.
The world champion lapped Suzuka in one minute and 33.852 seconds, making him the only driver to crack the one minute and 34-second barrier on Pirelli’s medium tire, but the Australian was super-close with one minute and 34.020 seconds.
“The car balance is decent, but I think we can still improve,” said Vettel. “Looking after the tires will be important here, especially during the race. The car works fine at the moment, but we need to make sure we set it up the right way. It’s good to see we are up there today, but it’s not always so important; we need to step up our game for tomorrow, as Mercedes will be strong in qualifying.”
In another session full of incident, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado, McLaren’s Sergio Perez and Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen all came back to the pits without their cars after falling foul of this tricky track.
Nico Rosberg was Red Bull’s closest challenger in his Mercedes with 1m 34.114s, an encouraging 0.262s off the outright pace, but Lewis Hamilton had a relatively disappointing run to sixth on 1m 34.442s.
Between the two Mercedes teammates were the Lotuses of Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.
Hamilton was quick in the first session earlier in the day.