Hamilton concerned about tire management in Japan

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He may have finished fastest in the first free practice session at Suzuka on Friday ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, but Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he is concerned about managing his tires during the race on Sunday.

The Briton has been blighted with tire troubles all season, losing out on the chance to win the race in Korea last weekend after his second stint was cut short thanks to aggressive wear on his tires as he struggled to P5 come the checkered flag. Although he is encouraged by his early pace in Japan, he is wary of the issue rearing its head once again.

“I’m happy with where our car is after the first practice sessions today although, of course, we would love to be more competitive,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got some work to do this evening on the tire management in particular. It’s too early to think about what we can achieve but I’m looking forward to a competitive qualifying tomorrow and then we will have to see what we can do in the race.”

His teammate, Nico Rosberg, capped off a good first session for Mercedes by finishing a close second, but neither driver could match the pace of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel a few hours later as the defending world champion moved to the top of the timesheets.

However, Hamilton will be keen on striking back on Saturday as he goes in search of his first win at Suzuka. The Briton has won the Japanese Grand Prix once before back in 2007 when the race was held at Fuji Speedway.

UPDATED: INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama under red-flag race stoppage due to rain

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UPDATE: The INDYCAR Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is under a red-flag race stoppage after 19 laps due to rain and puddling on the racing surface at Barber Motorsports Park.

Cleaners and dryers are on the track to try and get some of the water off the racing surface. The low spots on the track, as well as the front stretch, have been particularly troublesome and led to several spinouts and at least two wrecks (Charlie Kimball and outside front pole sitter Will Power).

Power’s day is done after suffering irreparable damage to the left side of his car after hydroplaning on the front straight and running into the inside retaining wall.

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

Although rain has been falling for nearly an hour and the Barber Motorsports Park 2.3-mile permanent road course is drenched, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is underway on NBCSN.

The start of the race was moved up from 3:38 p.m. ET to take the green flag at 3:08 p.m. ET.

Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of this race and also will start from the pole for today’s race.

While the race is scheduled for 90 laps, there’s a possibility that if the weather worsens or if lightning appears, it could potentially be shortened to just two hours.

As can be expected, all cars are on rain tires to maximize grip.

Catch the race live on NBCSN.