Oct 10, 2013, 10:45 PM EST
Mercedes has opened the Japanese Grand Prix weekend with a 1-2 effort in Friday free practice 1. Lewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg in the 90-minute session.
Hamilton’s best lap of 1:34.157 around the 3.6-mile Suzuka Circuit was more than a quarter second quicker than his 2012 teammate, Jenson Button, turned a year ago in a McLaren (1:34.507).
Rosberg was 0.33 of a second in arrears and the rest of the top 10 was nearly in proper “Noah’s Ark” two-by-two grid formation until right at the end of the session.
Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were third and fourth in the two Red Bulls, with the two Ferraris (Felipe Massa ahead of Fernando Alonso) and two Lotus-Renaults (Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen) next up.
Sergio Perez was ninth in the McLaren with Daniel Ricciardo’s late flier of 1:35.635 eclipsing Button’s 10th place time.
Monza and Korea hero Nico Hulkenberg was 12th for Sauber. Both Force Indias struggled; Paul di Resta was unable to get his tires properly up to temperatures and was just 17th ahead of Hulkenberg’s teammate Esteban Gutierrez.
While things were uneventful at the front of the grid there were four incidents of note from the tail-enders. Two happened simultaneously with 22 minutes remaining.
Williams’ Pastor Maldonado lost his left rear wheel on exit at Spoon Curve, and that pitched him into a spin. At the same time, Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde went off at Degner 2, locking his brakes and ending in the gravel before hitting the barriers.
Marussia’s Jules Bianchi wasn’t so lucky earlier in the session. He went off at the same corner, Degner 2, the second part of the double-apex right hander. When he tried to apply opposite lock to correct the oversteer, his arm was stuck against the side of the cockpit and he went into the barrier. It caused some left front damage to his car.
Teammate Max Chilton had a lazy but not serious spin right at the end of the session.
Elsewhere at the back of the grid, Heikki Kovalainen was back in the second Caterham, and clocked in 19th in Charles Pic’s chassis. Kovalainen led the three other tail-enders; his best time of 1:37.595 was less than a tenth clear of Bianchi, with van der Garde and Chilton further back.
Jan 28, 2015, 1:12 PM EST
Richard Petty Motorsports seeks sponsorship for 26 races for Sam Hornish Jr.’s team this season.
Jan 28, 2015, 1:02 PM EST
Horner also speaks with NBCSN’s Will Buxton about efforts from the team’s engine manufacturer, Renault, to ensure a much smoother start to 2015.
Jan 28, 2015, 12:33 PM EST
Force India opts to concentrate on getting its new 2015 car ready for the second preseason test at Barcelona.
Jan 28, 2015, 12:15 PM EST
Sam Hornish is fitting in quite nicely in his new role with Richard Petty Motorsports.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:56 AM EST
Last year’s July winner at Daytona thinks RPM’s momentum will continue to grow in 2015.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:46 AM EST
A deal to return to a ThorSport Toyota has fallen through for the son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:27 AM EST
Chastain will have support from the National Watermelon Association on his No. 4 Chevrolet Camaro.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:11 AM EST
Roush Fenway Racing continues to look for sponsorship for Darrell Wallace Jr., but Wallace says he plans to run the full XFINITY season.
Jan 28, 2015, 11:04 AM EST
Although there were a number of changes at Roush Fenway Racing, team co-owner Jack Roush believes things are on the right track for a big collective comeback from RFR in 2015.
Jan 28, 2015, 10:06 AM EST
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried to channel his inner Marshawn Lynch during Roush Fenway Racing’s segment of the NASCAR Media Tour on Wednesday.
Jan 28, 2015, 10:05 AM EST
Stewart takes control of one of the country’s oldest sprint car leagues.
Jan 28, 2015, 9:50 AM EST
A new anthem for NASCAR’s new era on NBC Sports.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:41 PM EST
Negative backlash following ad’s premiere on Tuesday’s “Today” show leads to GoDaddy pulling it from Sunday’s big game.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:55 PM EST
The Lights contingent finish their two-day session on the Homestead road course before heading to the oval on Thursday.
Jan 27, 2015, 7:12 PM EST
Following a dramatic Sprint Cup title victory in 2014, Harvick enters 2015 with less pressure – but not less motivated to continue his success.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:45 PM EST
Gene Haas provides an update on his F1 team’s progress during NASCAR Media Tour.
Jan 27, 2015, 5:28 PM EST
In a new promotional video for the XFINITY Series, Richard Petty says the next great NASCAR driver may be in the sport’s junior league right now.
Jan 27, 2015, 4:58 PM EST
Don’t miss this special event on Friday, Jan. 30, at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Jan 27, 2015, 4:34 PM EST
Kurt Busch says he’s unsure when a decision will be made in the protective hearing case sought by his ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll
Jan 27, 2015, 4:22 PM EST
In an effort to attract new drag racing fans, the National Hot Rod Association has embarked upon a new marketing and social media program for 2015: “Baptism by Nitro”, featuring the sport’s fastest cars, Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars.
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