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.
FORMULA 1 HONDA JAPANESE GRAND PRIX 2022
Practice 1 results
|1 Fernando ALONSO Alpine||1:42.248|
|2 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari||+0.315s|
|3 Charles LECLERC Ferrari||+0.386s|
|4 Esteban OCON Alpine||+0.774s|
|5 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team||+1.010s|
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.