• Japanese Grand Prix - FP1

Button heads Hamilton in FP1

ESPN Staff
October 5, 2012
Jenson Button was quickest in FP1 once again as he was in 2011 at Suzuka © Sutton Images

Jenson Button set the fastest time during a dry and warm FP1 session ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Button - quickest in all practice sessions and race winner last year - set a time of 1:34.507 with over half an hour of the session still to go as McLaren topped the timesheets. His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was second fastest with a 1:34.740 after a busy morning in which he completed 26 laps.

Mark Webber set the third fastest time - 0.349s slower than Button - as Red Bull appeared to split its running, with Sebastian Vettel ending the session down in 17th place and almost two seconds off the pace. Behind Webber were the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, who were separated by just 0.063s. The season came to a premature end for Rosberg though as his car stopped in the Esses with two minutes left.

Unsurprisingly at his home race it was Kamui Kobayashi who was the busiest driver completing 27 laps, and he ended up sixth quickest in a close session, with Felipe Massa, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg, Pastor Maldonado and Fernando Alonso all setting times within a second of Button's best.

Despite the Suzuka circuit often heavily punishing any mistakes, there was little in the way of errors during the 90 minutes, with Timo Glock running across the gravel at Degner Two and Sergio Perez running wide at 130R but both rejoining without incident.

Of the reserve drivers getting track time, Valtteri Bottas was 18th quickest for Williams - 0.911s slower than his team-mate Maldonado - while Giedo van der Garde was 23rd in the Caterham.

All of the FP1 running took place on hard tyres, but with a full step available between tyre compounds it will be interesting to see which cars react better on the soft tyres in the afternoon session.