FORMULA 1 star Lewis Hamilton was only eighth fastest in second practice for the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix as McLaren colleague Jenson Button set the pace at the Suzuka circuit.

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The 26-year-old Herts-born F1 driver posted a time of 1m 33.245s in the second session at Suzuka earlier today (Friday).

That was more than a second slower than Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team-mate Button, who topped the timesheets with a lap of 1m 31.901s.

Before leaving the pits for his final run of the afternoon session in Japan, Hamilton said over the team radio: “Still wondering whether we need to make another small change to the car?”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was second fastest in P2, followed by the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

Felipe Massa was fifth for Ferrari, with the Mercedes GP duo of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg also faster than Hamilton in sixth and seventh places respectively.

Despite Button clocking the fastest lap overall on soft Option tyres in P2, the Red Bulls were quicker on the longer runs with heavier fuel loads.

Button and Hamilton had earlier set the quickest laps in P1 this morning.

The McLaren pair finished ahead of Vettel and Alonso, with Button recording 1m 33.634s to go fastest and Hamilton 1m 33.725s.

Qualifying for the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix begins at 6am on Saturday with the race starting at 7am on Sunday.

* Click on the video to take a ride around the Suzuka Circuit from the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes simulator.

Lewis Hamilton’s performance engineer Mark Temple guides you round a lap of the Japanese GP circuit.

Video courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

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