Lewis Hamilton topped a rain-soaked second Formula 1 practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday afternoon as just five drivers set a time at Suzuka.
Rain had been forecast all day at Suzuka, arriving towards the end of first practice before growing in intensity through the afternoon, leading to the start of FP2 being delayed indefinitely.
The rain stopped around 35 minutes after the session had been due to begin, with safety car driver Bernd Maylander soon deeming the track to be dry enough for safe running.
Despite the green flag coming out with 45 minutes to go, it took another five minutes before a car appeared on-track, with Kimi Raikkonen being the first to brave the conditions.
The majority of drivers ventured out for at least one installation lap, but only five decided to post a lap time, with Hamilton ultimately finishing P1 with a lap of 1:48.719.
Force India drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez followed in P2 and P3, while Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were fourth and fifth for Williams. Stroll was fortunate not to crash, though, aquaplaning at the first corner and narrowly keeping his car out of the wall.
The real highlight of the session came during the rain delay as teams took advantage of the wet weather to send makeshift boats down the river in the pit lane, as made famous in 2010.
Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.
Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.
Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.
A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.
A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.
Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.