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FP1: Verstappen fastest during first practice at Suzuka as Sargeant crashes out heavily

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Red Bull’s Max Verstappen posted the quickest time during Friday’s first practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, leading the way from team mate Sergio Perez, while Logan Sargeant brought out the red flags with another sizeable FP1 accident for Williams.

A largely dry but cool opening hour of practice initially saw drivers head out for laps on the medium and hard compound tyres, with reigning world champion Verstappen setting the pace on C1s from McLaren’s Lando Norris and Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso on the C2s.

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Just as Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton had made the switch to soft tyres, with more drivers expected to follow, Sargeant dipped a wheel on the grass as he rounded Dunlop Curve, lost control of his Williams and slammed into the barriers at the outside of the track.

With significant contact at the front and rear, Williams now face another nervy break between FP1 and FP2 as they assess the damage and – given that they are still without a spare chassis – look to avoid the same situation that troubled them in Australia last time out.

Japan 2024

Practice 1 results

PositionTeam NameTime
1VER1:30.056
2PER+0.181s
3SAI+0.213s
4RUS+0.474s
5HAM+0.487s
View Full Results

When the action resumed, drivers ventured out on the soft C3 rubber to complete some more performance-focused runs, with Verstappen working his way down to a pace-setting time of 1m 30.056s to finish the session just under two-tenths clear of Perez.

Australian Grand Prix winner Carlos Sainz made another strong start to the weekend in third, followed by Mercedes pair George Russell and Hamilton and team mate Charles Leclerc – some three-tenths splitting the two Ferrari drivers.

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Alonso was the lead Aston Martin driver in seventh, as home favourite Yuki Tsunoda – pushing to build on some impressive displays so far this season – put his RB between the McLarens of Oscar Piastri and Norris in the final top 10 positions.

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Esteban Ocon put his Alpine 11th, ahead of Williams’ Alex Albon (driving with Sargeant’s old chassis, rather than the one he damaged at Albert Park) and the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg, who received a black-and-white flag for crossing the white line at the pit exit.

F2 race winner and current Super Formula driver Ayumu Iwasa was a new face during Friday’s opening session, taking over Daniel Ricciardo’s RB seat for FP1 in what marked his official F1 weekend debut on home soil – winding up 15th, just behind Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and Valtteri Bottas’ Kick Sauber.

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Positions 17 to 19 were filled by the remaining Alpine, Kick Sauber and Haas machines of Pierre Gasly, Zhou Guanyu and Kevin Magnussen respectively, with Sargeant bringing up the rear as he watched from the sidelines following his crash.

Having navigated some spits of rain in the closing minutes of the session, drivers and teams will now regroup and dig through their long and short-run data before second practice, which is due to get underway at 1500 local time.

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