Suzuka, FP1: Alonso quickest in wet opening practice in Japan

Mick Schumacher ends the session in the wall

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By Franck Drui

7 October 2022 - 06:06
Suzuka, FP1: Alonso quickest in wet (...)

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso set the early pace in a wet opening practice session for the 2022 FIA Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, outpacing Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in a session in which Haas’ Mick Schumacher crashed at the end of the hour.

Heavy rain in the build-up to the first practice session meant the opening 15 minutes were quiet with a series of drivers heading out for exploratory laps, though none set a time until Schumacher posted a lap of 1:52.237 on full wet tyres.

Sainz then emerged and he comfortably beat Schumacher’s time with his first flier of 1:49.952, before Leclerc moved to the top of the timesheet with the lap of 1:49.103. The two Ferrari drivers then traded fastest laps, with Sainz eventually working his way down to a time of 1:47.758s.

Championship leader Max Verstappen headed out on track for his first lap just after the halfway mark and with intermediate tyres on board he jumped to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:44.059.

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, both also on inters, then slotted in behind Verstappen. Singapore Grand Prix winner Sergio Pérez also jumped into the top four. Verstappen, though, was finding more time on his second run and he held on to P1 with an improved time of 1:43.362.

Ocon was also completing second flyer and when he crossed the line he wrested top spot from the Red Bull driver with a lap of 1:43.022.

More rain began to fall, but both Ferrari drivers moved from full wets to intermediates and Leclerc took top spot with a lap of 1:42.634. Sainz then beat his team-mate’s time with a lap of 1:42.563.

The Spaniard was, however, beaten by compatriot Alonso. The Alpine driver went purple in the first two sectors to take top spot with a lap of 1:42.248.

The rainfall was worsening, however, and that was the end of any further improvements at the top. It meant that Alonso held on to P1, eclipsing Sainz by 0.315 with Leclerc a further 0.071s behind. Ocon took fourth place ahead of Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, Verstappen, the other Haas of Schumacher, McLaren’s Lando Norris, Bottas and Pérez.

Just after the end of the hour, Schumacher crashed at Dunlop Curve as he returned to the pits following a practice start right at the end of FP1. The German radioed his team to report that he had suffered severe aquaplaning.

Pos.DriverCarTimeLaps
01 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A522 1:42.248 7
02 Carlos Sainz Ferrari F1-75 1:42.563 15
03 Charles Leclerc Ferrari F1-75 1:42.634 16
04 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A522 1:43.022 5
05 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:43.258 15
06 Max Verstappen Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:43.362 4
07 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-22 1:43.761 13
08 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:43.889 7
09 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:43.969 13
10 Sergio Perez Red Bull RBPT RB18 1:44.234 4
11 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo Ferrari C42 1:44.429 15
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL36 1:44.486 8
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W13 1:44.558 6
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:44.570 10
15 Alex Albon Williams Mercedes FW44 1:44.791 9
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:44.878 12
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW44 1:45.424 11
18 George Russell Mercedes W13 1:46.103 4
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri RBPT AT03 1:46.192 16
20 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR22 1:48.090 8

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