Bottas fastest in practice for Japanese GP

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — On Friday as Japanese Grand Prix organizers were forced to alter the weekend schedule with a powerful typhoon approaching, it was Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes who was quickest in both practice sessions.

Organizer canceled Saturday’s usual qualifying session with Typhoon Hagibis set to hit Japan’s main island on Saturday and Sunday. Plans call for the race to run as scheduled on Sunday at 2 p.m. local time with qualifying held earlier in the day.

Bottas had a fastest lap of 1 minute, 27.785 seconds at the at the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile) Suzuka circuit, 0.100 seconds faster than teammate Lewis Hamilton.

While qualifying is scheduled for Sunday, race stewards reserve the right to use the classification from the second practice on Friday for Sunday’s grid positions.

Hamilton has a commanding 73-point lead over Bottas with five races left in the season.

Hamilton has won here in four of the last five races. If Hamilton wins this weekend, he will equal Michael Schumacher’s record for the highest number of wins at the Japanese GP with six.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was third followed in the second session followed by the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel. Red Bull’s Alexander Albon was sixth.

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