Formula1: Russell leads Mercedes in second practice at Suzuka

George Russell led a Mercedes one-two at a rain-hampered second practice session at Suzuka, with the Briton topping the timesheets ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton and championship leader Max Verstappen here on Friday.

The teams were once again greeted with wet conditions at Suzuka as the rain continued to fall, resulting in the drivers staying in the pit lane at the beginning of the session. But after they emerged, the first half-hour of the 90-minute practice saw Hamilton lead the way with a time of 1m 49.489s.

With an hour left, Hamilton and Russell became the first drivers to make the switch from the wet tyres to the intermediates, resulting in the Mercedes pair trading the fastest laps as track conditions improved.

In the end, it was Russell who won the contest between the pair, setting a time of 1m 41.935s that bettered Hamilton’s attempt by 0.235s.

Championship leader Max Verstappen was third quickest — 0.851s behind Russell — with teammate Sergio Perez rounding out the top four.

Kevin Magnussen — whose teammate Mick Schumacher took no part in the session after crashing into the barrier at the end of FP1 — continued his good Friday form, with the fifth-quickest time overall.

Carlos Sainz was sixth fastest ahead of his compatriot Fernando Alonso — who was quickest in FP1 — in seventh, with his Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon further down the order in ninth.

It was a good session for Alfa Romeo, with Valtteri Bottas — who won at Suzuka in 2019 — eighth quickest, with teammate Zhou Guanyu, in 10th.

Charles Leclerc set a time good enough for 11th, ahead of the Williams duo of Nicholas Latifi and Alex Albon, who were 12th and 13th, respectively, in the timesheets.

Home favourite Yuki Tsunoda was down in P14, ahead of four-time Japanese Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel, in 15th.

The McLaren duo of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo were 16th and 17th, respectively, ahead of Lance Stroll in P18, with the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly the last of the runners in P19.

There were no red flags in the session, although we did see drivers — including Leclerc and Tsunoda — make their way through the gravel as they wrestled with the tricky conditions.

Home favourite Yuki Tsunoda was down in P14, ahead of four-time Japanese Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel, in 15th.

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