Tokyo: Daniel Ricciardo took the blame for a big crash in Friday`s free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on a day when championship leader Lewis Hamilton also had a scary moment.
Australia`s Ricciardo slid off the circuit at the final corner as he completed his first flying lap of Suzuka`s demanding "figure of eight" track. He careered through a gravel trap and hit the barriers with the left front corner of his Red Bull.
"I made a mistake," said Ricciardo. "I did my first quick lap and everyone is cooling after that, producing fast lap, slow lap and then fast again.
"On the slow lap, there was a yellow flag, so I went extra slow so that once I started my quick lap the yellow flag would have cleared and I would have been able to push.
"The tyres probably cooled too much and out of the last chicane I got on the power and had a few moments and just couldn`t catch it."
The accident brought an early end to the session for Ricciardo, who has notched three grand prix wins this season, but he was still 10th fastest.
"Obviously I just missed time there with an option tyre," he added.
Ricciardo`s Red Bull team-mate, four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, radioed the pits to make sure he was all right.
"I saw the car in the barrier and asked just to double check and fortunately he was fine," the German said.
Britain`s Hamilton was fastest in the day`s practice for Sunday`s race which is now threatened by a typhoon. But he also had a near miss.
The 29-year-old clocked a best lap time of 1min 35.078sec to finish 0.240 seconds clear of his German rival Rosberg, who is three points behind him in the title race with five races remaining.
"I thought I was going off and into the barriers and I only just caught it," Hamilton said, after explaining how he had caught and corrected his car during one of many lively incidents in a session of two red flags, several minor crashes and a series of errors.
Hamilton added that he was surprised by his Mercedes team`s clear dominance.
"Yeah. It changes from track to track and I don`t really understand it... But, it`s amazing what this team has done, to be able to come to one of the most demanding circuits for down-force and to be that competitive is fantastic.
"The car didn`t feel spectacular this morning, but on the option tyre this afternoon it felt really good - except when I nearly went off!"
The session ended early when Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne`s Toro Rosso came to a halt for a second time with smoke billowing from the rear, prompting the session`s second red flag.
Japanese Kamui Kobayashi, in his Caterham, and Mexican Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber, also crashed during the session.
Max Verstappen, making his debut in Formula One at the record youngest age of 17, clocked a very respectable 12th best time before engine problems ended his first foray.
The session was run in intermittent sunshine and it remained dry in the afternoon, but officials are still keeping a close watch on typhoon Phanfone, which is forecast to bring heavy rain to the Suzuka area by Sunday.
Bad weather could force the race organisers to bring the race start forward to Sunday morning.