BACK IN CHARGE: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton took back the pace during the second free practice session in Japan after team mate Nico Rosberg was fastest earlier on Friday. Image: AP / Petr David Josek
JENS MARXThe session finished with a red flag after Jean-Eric Vergne parked his Toro Rosso at the side of the track with a smoking power unit.
SUZUKA, Japan - Lewis Hamilton was fastest in second practice for the 2014 Japanese GP after Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg topped the time sheets in the morning session at Suzuka on Friday.
However, forecasts of heavy rain and strong winds from Typhoon Phanfone have caused uncertainty about whether the race can actually be held on Sunday (October 5).
The typhoon has formed over the Pacific Ocean and is expected to hit the region only on Monday but meteorologists have forecast heavy rain for Suzuka on Sunday (October 5). The inernational Automobile Federation will consider moving the race forward.
Saturday (Oct 4) qualifying is not expected to be affected by the approaching storm.
Rosberg set the morning pace with a lap of 1min35.461, 0.151sec quicker than Hamilton.
Hamilton, three points ahead of Rosberg in the Drivers' championship, posted a fastest lap of 1min35.078 in the second session, 0.240sec ahead of Rosberg, and the two Mercedes drivers were more than a second clear of the rest of the field with Valtteri Bottas closest in a Williams.
Jenson Button (McLaren), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen (McLaren), Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) were next up.
The morning session saw teenager Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso) become the youngest person yet to drive at an F1 practice session. Though only three days past his 17th birthday, Verstappen was 12th-fastest, 2.696sec off Rosberg's pace.
TWO FACE GRID PENALTY
His debut did not go completely smoothly: he was forced to pull up just before the session ended with smoke coming from the rear of his car.
Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado, meanwhile, was handed a 10-place grid penalty for using his sixth engine of the season in first practice. Drivers are allowed no more than five of any of the six power units in one season.
Maldonado will also drop 10 places from wherever he qualifies on Saturday (Oct 4). Should he qualify too far down the order for the full 10-place penalty to be applied, it will be carried over to the Russian GP in Sochi the following weekend.
Second free-practice session times
1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 1min35.078
2 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min35.318
3 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes 1min36.279
4 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min36.409
5 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) RedBull - Renault 1min36.436
6 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 1min36.529
7 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min36.637
8 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren 1min36.714
9 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min36.943
10 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull - Renault 1min37.186
11 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso - Renault 1min37.219
12 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes 1min37.504
13 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Renault 1min37.563
14 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes 1min37.700
15 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes 1min37.786
16 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - Renault 1min37.798
17 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber - Ferrari 1min38.010
18 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari 1min38.365
19 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham - Renault 1min39.069
20 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia - Ferrari 1min39.306
21 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Ferrari 1min39.333
22 Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Caterham - Renault 1min42.760
First free-practice session times
1 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes - 1min35.461
2 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes - 1min35.612
3 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari - 1min36.037
4 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams-Mercedes - 1min36.576
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari - 1min37.187
6 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) McLaren - 1min37.327
7 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull - Renault - 1min37.466
8 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren - 1min37.649
9 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull - Renault - 1min37.686
10 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - Renault - 1min37.714
11 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams-Mercedes - 1min38.012
12 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso - Renault - 1min38.157
13 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - Mercedes - 1min38.324
14 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India - Mercedes - 1min38.582
15 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus - Renault - 1min38.851
16 Adrian Sutil (Germany) Sauber - Ferrari - 1min39.046
17 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus - Renault - 1min39.097
18 Esteban Gutierrez (Mexico) Sauber - Ferrari - 1min39.318
19 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Caterham - Renault - 1min40.031
20 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Caterham - Renault - 1min41.472
21 Jules Bianchi (France) Marussia - Ferrari - 1min41.580
22 Max Chilton (Britain) Marussia - Ferrari - 1min41.757
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2014 Japanese GP this weekend.