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Friday Report: 2023 Japanese GP

Learning day for the team on first day of running at Suzuka

  • It was a challenging Friday at the Japanese Grand Prix, with high temperatures and humidity persisting throughout.

  • The team opted use a set of prototype Pirelli tyres in both FP1 and FP2, before focusing on the traditional Friday work across the softer end of the usual compound range.

  • FP1 saw both drivers run two sets of the Medium tyre; Lewis and George both initially struggling with the balance of the car and an overall lack of grip.

  • Several set-up changes were made ahead of FP2; George the slightly happier driver at the end of the session in P5, with Lewis P14.

  • Less than one second covered P2 to P14 in FP2 with seven different teams in the top-10.

  • The team will now focus on looking to optimise the set-up and make improvements overnight before returning to the track for FP3 tomorrow morning.


George Russell

24 Laps



Proto, Medium, Medium

Lewis Hamilton

22 Laps



Proto, Medium, Medium


George Russell

22 Laps



Proto, Soft, Soft

Lewis Hamilton

21 Laps



Proto, Soft, Soft

George Russell

It feels great to back driving around Suzuka. It’s such an incredible circuit. It’s been a slightly strange Friday for us. The track seemed to have very low grip, particularly in FP1, so the car is sliding around quite a lot. That doesn’t give you the best feeling in the world as a driver. Particularly when you’ve got plenty of high-speed corners to tackle. The race on Sunday will also be interesting as tyre degradation looks very high.

In terms of the relative order, the Red Bull looks to have returned to its normal pace at the front. They have been exceptionally quick today. I think we are likely half-a-step behind the Ferraris and the McLaren of Lando Norris at present. We’ve got a bit of work to do tonight to close that gap. We are typically strong at finding those performance gains so we can be optimistic of improving for tomorrow.

Lewis Hamilton

It was a very challenging day for us out there. I had a lack of confidence in the car and that contributed to our struggles. It was difficult to find the right balance and we didn’t manage to get on top of it by the end of FP2. The tyres were overheating and that left us quite far off the top of the timing sheets.

We know we’ve got a lot of work to do tonight to pick up the performance. I do believe we can make improvements though. We have had similar Friday’s this season and come back stronger on Saturday. We will see tomorrow if we have done so again. We will be putting in the effort this evening to give us every chance of getting ourselves higher up the order.

Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director

We've certainly been on the back foot today. Both FP1 and FP2 proved tricky sessions for us. Both drivers reported struggling with an overall lack of grip and the balance of the car. We made some changes ahead of the second session and gained some useful learnings from that. However, we know we must make improvements overnight.

We are clearly not strong enough in the faster corners, with the first sector proving a particular weakness for us. That’s where the majority of our work will be focused this evening. George did find some improvement on the single lap in FP2, but we are facing the same challenges on both our qualifying pace and the long run. In a sense that is encouraging. If we can fix one, the other should improve too. However, we are not underestimating the work we’ve got to do to be stronger over the rest of the weekend.