SUZUKA, JAPAN - Valtteri Bottas edged Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the fastest time in opening practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix on Friday, a session overshadowed by news that qualifying has been moved to Sunday due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Formula One's governing body said earlier on Friday that race promoters and the Japanese Automobile Federation had decided to cancel all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday due to the typhoon's approach.

The hour-long qualifying session that decides the grid order for the race will now be held at 10:00 am. (3:00 am South African time) on Sunday, while the final practice session, which would normally take place before qualifying, has been scrapped.

In Friday's practice, Finn Bottas lapped the 5.8-kilometer Suzuka circuit in one minute 28.731 seconds, ahead of his five time world champion team mate by 0.076 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel was third for Ferrari, ahead of team mate Charles Leclerc, nearly a second off Bottas’s pace.

Max Verstappen was fifth for Red Bull, getting engine supplier Honda’s home race off to a solid start. His team-mate Alexander Albon was sixth.

Carlos Sainz was seventh for McLaren ahead of Racing Point’s Sergio Perez, with the Mexican’s team mate Lance Stroll and McLaren rookie Lando Norris rounding out the top 10.

Reigning Japanese Super Formula and Super GT touring car series champion Naoki Yamamoto took part in Friday’s opening session driving a Honda-powered Toro Rosso.

The 31-year-old Honda-backed Japanese, who will hand the car back to Pierre Gasly for the rest of the weekend, finished the session 17th and was just a tenth of a second slower than regular driver Daniil Kvyat.

Mercedes can seal a record-equalling sixth successive Formula One constructors' championship on Sunday by scoring 14 more points than Ferrari.

Hamilton leads the drivers' championship by 73 points from Bottas with five races to go. 

Reuters