Recapping all of the additional news and notes on Friday at Suzuka, F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith brings you his paddock notebook.

- Mercedes continued its recent fine form as it swept to a one-two finish in both FP1 and FP2 at Suzuka on Friday, with Lewis Hamilton leading Valtteri Bottas in both sessions. The bigger concern for the chasing pack was the gap to the front, which stood at eight-tenths of a second to Hamilton’s title rival Sebastian Vettel at the end of the day.

- Mercedes remained coy about its pace, with team boss Toto Wolff saying he did not think the gap was truly reflective of the difference between the two teams. Vettel, however, seemed more uneasy about where Ferrari stood, his title hopes already hanging by a thread.

- Confirmation arrived via Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene that the FIA requested a second sensor be added to the battery on its car. This follows long-running queries regarding the performance of its battery that originated from Mercedes in Baku. Arrivabene stressed that the addition of a second sensor was the not reason behind Ferrari’s recent dip in performance.

- Red Bull mixed it with Ferrari through both FP1 and FP2, although Max Verstappen was left unhappy about the balance of his car after a difficult day. The Dutchman said he felt Mercedes was out of sight at Suzuka.

- Renault and McLaren were both forced to break their curfews overnight after a delay in the engine oil supplied to the teams by Castrol in getting to Suzuka, caused by a travel issue and then by a hold up at customs in Tokyo. The FIA stewards did not count the breakage towards both teams’ season allowance, though, as it was the result of factors outside of their control.

- The F1 team principals held a meeting on Friday evening following FP2 to discuss new ways to try and improve the on-track spectacle, and resolved that they should hold more regular meetings to explore plans for the future.

- The incident that saw debris enter Pierre Gasly’s cockpit in Russia was discussed at the drivers’ briefing with Charlie Whiting, but the Frenchman said he doubted much could really happen.

- Toro Rosso enjoyed a strong day as Brendon Hartley hit the top 10 in FP2, aided by the improved Spec 3 Honda power unit at Suzuka. Hartley said he felt Q3 was a “genuine possibility” for the team in Japan, but is braced for a close fight with the other midfield runners. Hartley also had fun during his first running at Suzuka, calling the track “freaking sweet”.

- Reaching Q3 was also the target set for Toro Rosso by team boss Franz Tost after the full introduction of the updated engine at Suzuka, with the team keen to make a good impression at Honda’s home race.

- Tost spoke about the upcoming return of Daniil Kvyat to Toro Rosso in 2019 , saying he found the Russian to be “much more measured” when the pair had dinner over the Sochi race weekend. The identity of Kvyat’s teammate is still to be confirmed, though.

- Carlos Sainz Jr. is still dealing with an infection that left him feeling under the weather in Sochi. The Spaniard said he feels better now and has no pain despite the infection changing eyes.

- Kevin Magnussen had a difficult birthday’s worth of running at Suzuka as he turned 26 on Friday. The Dane finished outside of the top 10 in both sessions, and conceded Haas had work to do if it wanted to fight at the front of the midfield again this weekend.

- Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur confirmed 2019 driver Kimi Raikkonen had already undergone a seat fitting at Hinwil, but said it was to fit him to next year’s car. This followed reports the seat fitting could lead him to test for the team later this year.

- Valtteri Bottas, Marcus Ericsson, Pierre Gasly, Daniel Ricciardo and Stoffel Vandoorne will all have new gearboxes for the weekend at Suzuka. All are within the regulations, so trigger no penalties. There are no power unit changes following Sochi as of yet.

- A number of classic F1 cars took part in a parade on Friday at Suzuka, dating back to 1987 and the first running for the Japanese Grand Prix at the track. Cars included the Ferrari F187, Lotus 100T, Benetton B189, McLaren MP4/6, McLaren MP4-13 (driven by Mika Hakkinen), Ferrari F2005, Ferrari 248F1 (driven briefly by Felipe Massa) and the Ferrari F10. The F2005 ended the show run in the gravel, though, having gone off the track at Degner 1.


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