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The anticipated rain hit both free practice sessions in Suzuka, but FP1 got underway on time. About halfway through the session, however, Carlos Sainz crashed heavily in his Toro Rosso, ending with the car sprawling across the track and bringing out the red flags. The action got going again with twenty minutes to go, but halfway through that the rain started to fall and the times saw no improvement – Vettel was the fastest.
Kevin Magnussen had to recover from water pressure issues in the first half of the session and Pierre Gasly tested the halo on his Toro Rosso in only his second F1 weekend.
Meanwhile, FP2 was a quiet affair track-wise. Heavy rain saw the start delayed and the teams working on their pit lane river rafts rather than the cars. Eventually it cleared up enough so that with 45 minutes on the clock, cars started to emerge. Only 14 cars hit the track though, with full wets on, and only five of those set a timed lap. Hamilton led the way with the two Force India and two Williams drivers behind him.