Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in practice one

Formula 1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton led a dominant Mercedes one-two in the opening practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix despite avoiding Pirelli's softest tyres

Japanese GP: Lewis Hamilton leads Mercedes one-two in practice one

Hamilton toppled team-mate Valtteri Bottas to set a session-best 1m28.691s, putting Mercedes seven-tenths clear of Red Bull and a full second clear of Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo ended the morning third, with Kimi Raikkonen beating Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel to fourth.

Ricciardo was the session's early pacesetter as he and team-mate Max Verstappen ran quickly on soft tyres in the opening half an hour.

A 1m29.842s from Bottas then put Mercedes ahead before the halfway mark on softs.

Bottas headed Vettel by a tenth at that point but the Ferrari was running supersoft tyres and barely outpaced Hamilton, who was only on mediums.
W
hen Bottas switched to fresh medium tyres he improved to a 1m29.137s, which Hamilton comfortably eclipsed on his first soft-tyre flying lap by almost half a second.

The Ferraris were no match despite using a second set of new supersofts, having brought an aggressive tyre allocation to Suzuka.

Ricciardo set a 1m29.373s to lap three tenths clear of Ferrari, though Raikkonen was able to steal ahead of his team-mate because Vettel lost time in the final corner behind Pierre Gasly.

Toro Rosso driver Gasly, who also had a trip over the grass out of Turn 2 during the morning, had already been involved in an earlier, more dramatic incident with Hamilton.

Gasly was slowing ahead of the chicane before the start of a flying lap but despite checking his mirrors he remained on the racing line and Hamilton, approaching on a fast lap, had to swerve aggressively at the last minute in avoidance.

Hamilton, who is edging closer to a fifth F1 title, locked up and took to the escape road before gesturing his displeasure at Gasly.

The incident will be investigated after the session.

Behind the big three teams, Esteban Ocon claimed best-of-the-rest honours.

The Point Racing Force India man lapped 1.9s off the pace but impressively outpaced his midfield rivals on soft tyres as they all ran supersofts.

Romain Grosjean was eighth-quickest, just over two tenths behind Ocon, while Sauber completed the top 10 with Charles Leclerc a tenth quicker than Marcus Ericsson.

Gasly missed out on a top-10 place despite matching Ericsson's best time to the thousandth.

The classic Suzuka circuit caught out a few drivers, with Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso suffering the biggest moments.

Perez had a half-spin at the final corner after dropping a wheel onto the dirt on the outside entering the chicane.

Alonso made the same mistake at the first Degner corner, which sent his McLaren skating across the gravel and ended with the Spaniard facing the wrong way.

He was able to rejoin the track and eventually set the 18th-fastest time, 3.3s off the pace and backed up by 2019 McLaren driver Lando Norris in 20th.

Norris was slowest of all, 3.9s off the pace, as he stood in for Stoffel Vandoorne for his latest practice one outing.

FP1 times

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m28.691s - 25
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m29.137s 0.446s 26
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m29.373s 0.682s 32
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m29.627s 0.936s 20
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m29.685s 0.994s 20
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m29.841s 1.150s 30
7 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m30.591s 1.900s 28
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m30.814s 2.123s 22
9 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m30.929s 2.238s 27
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m31.073s 2.382s 29
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m31.073s 2.382s 20
12 Carlos Sainz Jr. Renault 1m31.100s 2.409s 23
13 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m31.272s 2.581s 29
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m31.274s 2.583s 28
15 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m31.418s 2.727s 18
16 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m31.508s 2.817s 27
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m31.908s 3.217s 23
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m32.034s 3.343s 21
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m32.513s 3.822s 26
20 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m32.683s 3.992s 30


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Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Teams Mercedes
Author Scott Mitchell
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