Lewis Hamilton edged team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.330s in Friday's practice in Japan where three drivers failed to reach the chequered flag.
Pastor Maldonado set the early pace with a 1:36.1 before he was overhauled by Sergio Perez by 0.4s. However, the duo were both forced to back off when the yellow flags came out as Jules Bianchi crashed his Marussia at the second Degner after just eight laps.
Losing it when he hit the power for the second, he speered off the track and slammed almost nose first in the tyre barriers.
Bianchi was seen flexing his left hand in the immediate aftermath already replays showed he had removed his hands from the steering wheel before hitting.
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