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F1 Japanese GP: Verstappen leads Red Bull 1-2 in FP1, Sargeant crashes

Max Verstappen drew first blood at the Japanese Grand Prix as the Formula 1 championship leader headed an opening practice session interrupted by a red flag.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB20

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

The Red Bull driver followed the red flag-enforced hiatus, produced by Logan Sargeant's crash, with a hot lap on soft tyres that eventually landed on a 1m30.056s to throw down the gauntlet for the rest of the weekend.

In anticipation of any inclement weather at Suzuka later on in the weekend, it appeared that many of the teams wished to prioritise the longer runs during FP1 in the event that FP2 faces any rainfall.

This stunted the period of faster runs on the soft tyre, as the opening half-hour of running was dedicated to the hard and medium compounds amid the early installation laps.

Lando Norris led the way after the opening 15 minutes, having traded top-line times with Melbourne winner Carlos Sainz, but the Briton then had his time matched to the thousandth by Fernando Alonso.

Verstappen then raised the bar with a 1m31.463s, ominously on the hard tyre, before a lull in proceedings among the majority of the field as the teams switched from the cast of medium and hard tyres for a soft run during the second half of the session.

This prompted Lewis Hamilton to vault to the top on softs, almost a second faster than his 2021 title rival's time.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

The session was red-flagged moments after when Sargeant put his Williams into the wall - the American washed out through the Dunlop Curve and spun over the gravel. This did little to stop him from hitting the wall with the front of his car, which rotated it rearwards.

Williams will need to assess Sargeant's car for damage, which was the car Albon crashed in FP1 at the Australian Grand Prix and required chassis repairs. The Grove team is still awaiting completion of a spare tub, which it does not expect to have until Miami.

When the 10-minute lay-off had ended once the Williams was swept away, Verstappen punched in a 1m30.056s to return to the top, followed by team-mate Sergio Perez who was 0.181s off in that phase of the session.

This remained the set order at the top of the timesheets, as the two Red Bulls switched back onto the hard tyres to collect more running around the Japanese figure-of-eight circuit.

Sainz was third fastest, just over two tenths off of Verstappen's best, as the Ferraris were split by the two Mercedes cars; George Russell was a scant 0.013s clear of Lewis Hamilton, who in turn beat Charles Leclerc by just a smidgen.

Alonso was seventh, running the older-spec bodywork on his Aston Martin AMR24 as Lance Stroll trialled the slightly revised sidepods on his machinery. However, their back-to-back testing hit a snag as an aero rake broke on Stroll's car early on in the session.

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46, climbs out of his damaged car after a crash in FP1

Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46, climbs out of his damaged car after a crash in FP1

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

McLaren's Oscar Piastri collected the eighth-fastest time over home hero Yuki Tsunoda, while Norris completed the top 10 over Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon

Red Bull junior Ayumu Iwasa made his first FP1 appearance for RB at his home circuit, claiming the 16th-fastest time as he slowly grew into the session. This was 0.9s shy of Tsunoda's fastest lap in an error-free showing from the Formula 2 race winner.

F1 Japanese GP - FP1 results

   
1
 - 
4
   
   
1
 - 
2
   
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 18

1'30.056

  232.135
2 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 18

+0.181

1'30.237

0.181 231.669
3 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 20

+0.213

1'30.269

0.032 231.587
4 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 18

+0.474

1'30.530

0.261 230.920
5 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 23

+0.487

1'30.543

0.013 230.886
6 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 18

+0.502

1'30.558

0.015 230.848
7 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 20

+0.543

1'30.599

0.041 230.744
8 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 23

+1.109

1'31.165

0.566 229.311
9 Japan Y. Tsunoda RB 22 RB Red Bull 20

+1.174

1'31.230

0.065 229.148
10 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 22

+1.184

1'31.240

0.010 229.123
11 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 19

+1.879

1'31.935

0.695 227.391
12 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 18

+1.887

1'31.943

0.008 227.371
13 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 19

+1.902

1'31.958

0.015 227.334
14 Finland V. Bottas Sauber 77 Sauber Ferrari 17

+1.998

1'32.054

0.096 227.097
15 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 17

+1.999

1'32.055

0.001 227.094
16 Japan A. Iwasa RB 40 RB Red Bull 22

+2.047

1'32.103

0.048 226.976
17 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 23

+2.221

1'32.277

0.174 226.548
18 China Z. Guanyu Sauber 24 Sauber Ferrari 18

+2.582

1'32.638

0.361 225.665
19 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 21

+2.747

1'32.803

0.165 225.264
20 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 10

+3.148

1'33.204

0.401 224.295

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