SUZUKA (AFP) - Valtteri Bottas was quickest Friday in practice before the Japanese Grand Prix locked down ahead of an approaching super typhoon, finishing a tenth of a second ahead of teammate and world championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes pair, benefiting in Japan from an aerodynamic upgrade package to their W10 cars, were comfortably ahead of the third-fastest Red Bull of Max Verstappen in the second session of the condensed racing weekend at Suzuka.
"It was a very positive day," said Bottas. "We tried the new bits with the car. It felt good since the beginning."
Just before the first session began on Friday morning, race organizers announced that the entire Saturday track program, including qualifying, had been scrapped for safety reasons in the face of the approaching Super Typhoon Hagibis.
Qualifying was rescheduled to 10am (0100 GMT) Sunday, with the race still taking place at 2:10pm (0510 GMT) as originally planned, providing the weather improves.
"(We) still need to remember it's only practice, Sunday is still going to be close with qualifying and the race," Bottas said.
The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, who had dominated practice and qualifying at the previous four grands prix since the summer break, could only trail in fourth and fifth after failing to record a clean lap on the fastest soft tyres.
The loss of Saturday's timetable added extra spice with only Friday's two practice sessions available to prepare the cars for qualifying.
*****************Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton were comfortably ahead of the pack