Sebastian Vettel set the quickest time on an action-packed Friday at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The German's 1:33.852 on the medium compound have one-and-a-half tenths advantage over team-mate Mark Webber.
The day however was characterised by a number of big crashes with three drivers crashing at the infamous second Degner turn.
In the opening session it was Lewis Hamilton who led the standings with a 1:34.157, the session was fairly quiet with the drivers testing out the limits of both the car and the tyres.
Early in the session Jules Bianchi would have issues getting his arm stuck between the seat and the chassis so when he took too much kerb at the second Degner turn, he was unable to correct the car and slide off into the wall. That crash would end his day's work very early.
Red Bull and Mercedes topped the timings through much of the session with Hamilton's lap with around half an hour left the eventual benchmark.
Further drama as Pastor Maldonado would lose his left rear wheel at Spoon forcing him off the track and a good bit of quick recovery work from the Japanese marshals.
At the same time, Giedo van der Garde became the second victim at Degner two unstabling the car on the kerb on the exit of the first Degner and being unable to slow down in time for the second.
From then on the lap times dropped off as tyre wear became an issue and the driver's ran more fuel.
The second session got off to a busy start with several drivers heading straight out and setting lap times.
One such man to do so Maldonado who after losing a wheel in the morning would then become the third victim at the second Degner, Sergio Perez would add his name to the list crashers in perhaps the most spectacular incident of the day losing the rear into the Spoon curve and sliding into the wall.
Then came the move onto the softer option tyres where we would see who has the pace over a single lap.
This is where Red Bull would shine as Vettel and Mark Webber moved to the front, the triple-world champion the only man below the 1:34 barrier. Interestingly his best was only .3 faster than Hamilton's morning time with the gap between the two tyres around half a second.
A mistake for Hamilton meant his soft tyre run was spoiled and a spin for Fernando Alonso between the two Degner corners also compromised a number of drivers' laps.
From then it was on to the race simulations, Kimi Raikkonen would not complete his however becoming the sixth crasher of the day losing his Lotus on the exit of the Dunlop curve.
Both the medium and hard compound showed good durability with the leaders lapping around the 1:40 mark. There was little performance gap between the two compounds over the longer stint and two-stop strategies should be used by most on Sunday.
The weekend looks set to be another close battle between Red Bull and Mercedes in qualifying with Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren a few tenths behind, certainly the possibility of Vettel claiming his fourth world title is not out of the question.
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