FP1: Alonso leads Sainz and Leclerc in soaking wet first practice at Suzuka
Fernando Alonso set the pace during a rain-hit opening practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, putting his Alpine ahead of Ferrari pair Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
With F1 returning to Suzuka for the first time since 2019, heavy rain greeted the drivers ahead of the opening 60-minute session. While there was a break in the conditions as the action got under way, Pirelli’s wet and intermediate tyres were in use throughout.
Kevin Magnussen and home favourite Yuki Tsunoda were the first to emerge when the green light came on at the end of the pit lane, with half of the field soon joining them to gather some early mileage on the wet tyres and dial themselves in.
However, after a handful of laps, Leclerc reported that the track was ready for intermediates and, around half an hour in, drivers shifted to the green-marked rubber. A 10-minute window of improvements followed, before another shower arrived and soaked the track once more.
FORMULA 1 HONDA JAPANESE GRAND PRIX 2022
Practice 1 results
|1 Fernando Alonso ALO Alpine
|2 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari
|3 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari
|4 Esteban Ocon OCO Alpine
|5 Kevin Magnussen MAG Haas F1 Team
Ultimately, Alonso ended FP1 on top with a time of 1m 42.248s, finishing three-tenths clear of Sainz, with Leclerc – surviving a trip through the gravel late on – just under a tenth further back in third.
Esteban Ocon joined team mate Alonso in the top four in the wet conditions, as Alpine look to bounce back from losing P4 in the constructors’ standings to rivals McLaren last time out in Singapore.
First man out Magnussen wound up fifth fastest for Haas, a second off Alonso’s benchmark time, followed closely by Max Verstappen after the Red Bull driver went straight to intermediates at the halfway mark.
Mick Schumacher expressed frustration over the radio after getting “massively blocked” by Alonso in the final sector as he took seventh, only to throw it off the road at Turn 7 after the chequered flag and take the front wing off his Haas.
McLaren driver Lando Norris reported an engine concern en route to eighth place, while Alfa Romeo pair Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu sandwiched the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) was another driver to have an off-track excursion in 12th, the Australian slotting in ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who was the lead Mercedes in a quiet session for the Silver Arrows – team mate George Russell down in 18th.
Lance Stroll took 14th for Aston Martin, followed by Alex Albon (Williams), Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – via a run through the gravel – and the aforementioned Russell.
AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda started his home Grand Prix weekend in 19th position, with Sebastian Vettel cut adrift at the back of the field in the other Aston Martin.