Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on September 22, 2023 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

F1: Verstappen stays on top in Japanese GP Practice 2

Red Bull Honda World Champion Max Verstappen stayed fastest in the 2nd practice session for the 2023 Japanese GP at Suzuka on Friday afternoon.

–by Mark Cipolloni–

After easily topping the morning practice session, Verstappen was one of the first drivers to switch to the soft Pirelli tires, producing an initial benchmark of 1m31.377s.

Following fast runs from Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc to topple the Dutchman from the top spot, Verstappen rejoined the Suzuka track on softs to pump in a 1m30.688s lap and move comfortably clear of the McLaren and Ferrari drivers.

Leclerc wound up 0.320s adrift and Norris 0.464s back, with Carlos Sainz in the 2nd Ferrari 0.549s behind Verstappen.

Charles Leclerc 2023 Japanese GP
Charles Leclerc 2023 Japanese GP

George Russell rounded out the top-5 for Mercedes, 0.640s behind, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton was sandbagging down in 14th.

Lewis Hamilton 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, Friday - Steve Etherington Photo for Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, Friday – Steve Etherington Photo for Mercedes

Late in the session, Pierre Gasly wadded up his Alpine against the Turn 9 wall.  He was uninjured.

American Logan Sargeant was again dead last, while his teammate Alex Albon was up in 7th position, proving it’s not the car Sargeant suffers with, but simply lack of raw speed.

Japanese GP Practice 2 Results

1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda 1:30.688 +0.000s 19
2 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:31.008 +0.320s 23
3 4 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes 1:31.152 +0.464s 22
4 55 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:31.237 +0.549s 22
5 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:31.328 +0.640s 22
6 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:31.492 +0.804s 22
7 23 Alexander Albon Williams Mercedes 1:31.555 +0.867s 23
8 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren Mercedes 1:31.662 +0.974s 22
9 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda 1:31.710 +1.022s 24
10 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:31.739 +1.051s 22
11 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Aramco Mercedes 1:31.771 +1.083s 22
12 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault 1:31.794 +1.106s 22
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Haas Ferrari 1:31.797 +1.109s 24
14 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:31.829 +1.141s 21
15 40 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri Honda 1:32.141 +1.453s 23
16 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo Ferrari 1:32.165 +1.477s 16
17 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:32.169 +1.481s 23
18 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda 1:32.178 +1.490s 26
19 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine Renault 1:32.179 +1.491s 22
20 2 Logan Sargeant Williams Mercedes 1:32.320 +1.632s 25
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