Both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso claim they have a good basis from which to work on over the course of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend at Fuji.

Embarking on several unknowns at a circuit that has not hosted a grand prix in over 30 years, the round is nonetheless a crucial one for all those currently in with a chance of winning the title, including both McLaren drivers.

And although Ferrari gained the upper hand in the first free practice session of the day, Hamilton and Alonso turned the tables in the quicker second session to provide no additional cues as to whom will be the team to beat heading into qualifying and the race.

Nonetheless, it was Hamilton who got the edge over his title rival and team-mate Alonso, the Brit enjoying the novelty of racing at a circuit that is unknown to his rivals rather than just him.

"It's obviously always a challenge to get to know a new track, but I have tried that three times this year already. The engineers and I walked the circuit yesterday, and I was really looking forward to getting in the car this morning. I stayed on the same set of tyres in the first session - just to get a feel for the layout.

"The grip levels increased throughout, but the challenge is when you don't have a real idea of when the levels will stabilise. I experienced no problems and we found a good basis and made continuous progress. In the second session we focused on some longer runs and everything seems to be going in the right direction."

Alonso echoed Hamilton's views, claiming the car came to him more as the grip levels improved over the two sessions.

"I walked the circuit with my engineers on Wednesday which always gives you an initial idea, but today was when the fun started. The track is very challenging but initially it was very dusty and the grip levels were low. In the first session I mainly focused on familiarisation and stayed on the same set of tyres throughout.

"The second session was when the work really began with tyre comparisons and set-up work. So far so good and we experienced no problems. Both tyre options seem to be working well, and I am looking forward to a competitive weekend."



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