Red Bull was on the mission to deliver a solid result (possibly win) for the local race of the Honda engine partner after all the grid penalties suffered early from the summer break comeback; a strong result on Sunday could boost the morale of the PU engineers for keeping high involvement in order to deliver a strong result on 2020 season.
However, typhoon Hagibis together with the other Silver Arrows’ ‘storm’ may prevent even a secure podium to Milton Keynes team; the atmospheric event will shorten the experience gain of the squad regarding tyres and setup around Suzuka: with only two Friday sessions for getting warmed up there are little adjustments left.
On the other side Mercedes have shown abundant dominance since the early laps: a 1-2 repeated twice set no room for alternative suggestions in imaging the race podium; even Ferrari are securing the frontrunner slots after the stunning post-Spa recovery through wins, pole position and fastest laps marked.
Max Verstappen ended the day with a best of 3rd position on timesheets underlining the progresses made so far where even the fuel partner Esso is working for extracting every horse power possible:
“I wasn’t totally happy with the balance initially today but we improved a lot from FP1 to FP2 which you can see from the lap times this afternoon. There are still improvements to be made and Mercedes are looking very strong, which is no surprise on this track, but we made a good recovery from this morning. The new Esso fuel also seems to be a good step forward in terms of power which is really positive. It’s only Friday so you can’t really tell where everyone is but we were all pushing a little harder in FP2 in case qualifying doesn’t happen on Sunday and these times set our grid positions. Because of the typhoon we won’t be on track tomorrow but we have a full day to look at the data and I will probably set up a FIFA tournament with some of the other drivers. I’m not worried about doing qualifying and the race on Sunday as it won’t affect my approach. […]”
Alex Albon, the other way around, was searching confidence with the car after having suffered lot of engine issues in the last rounds. A P6 is everything he could managed, even if the Thai claims that only the fine-tuning phase is missing for the optimal setup:
“I’m quite happy with how today went and I’m loving the track so I can’t wait to get back out there. Sector one is really impressive and I’m enjoying myself. I got into a rhythm quite quickly and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable than I was in Sochi, but I still have some work to do. It’s my first time driving here and not running tomorrow means less time for me to learn the track which isn’t ideal. […]. Mercedes are very quick and they look good in the corners but our car is getting a lot better and I don’t think the balance is too far away. We’re making good progress and there’s still a bit more to come, so now it’s just about fine tuning things to find a couple more tenths. Let’s see if qualifying goes ahead on Sunday as P6 is maybe not quite what we wanted. […]. At the moment I’ve got nothing planned for tomorrow but I’ve heard there’s a bowling alley in our hotel so maybe we’ll do that!”