Verstappen tops opening practice at Suzuka

Verstappen tops opening practice at Suzuka

Max Verstappen took the lead in the opening practice of the Japanese Grand Prix ahead of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris in a jam-packed Suzuka practice.

Charles Leclerc came in fourth marking an impressive session for Ferrari. Meanwhile, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda placed a surprise fifth, followed by Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in sixth.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri finished in seventh place as Williams’ Alex Albon came in at number eight, followed by Liam Lawson at number nine. Lance Stroll, who had recovered from his injury in Singapore, rounded out the top 10.

The two-time world champion was the first driver on the track and immediately demonstrated a clear intention to dominate the session as Red Bull tried to atone for a disappointing showing at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Verstappen took 15 minutes to edge out the McLarens at the top of the timesheets by 1.6 seconds, underlining the potential of Red Bull’s performance this weekend.

However, the Dutchman was less than impressed with George Russell’s attempts to move out of his way during an early-session fast lap, despite the fact that he had little to complain about during FP1.

Replays revealed that the Mercedes driver was making every effort to move aside, even getting into the grass as he maneuvered through sector one’s narrow space.

After his soft tyre run, Carlos Sainz, who has been driving brilliantly for Ferrari lately, was only six tenths behind Max Verstappen and four tenths ahead of teammate Charles Leclerc. In the event that Red Bull fades this weekend, it would seem that Ferrari is best positioned to pick up the pieces.

Sergio Perez came in 11th, more than a second behind his Red Bull teammate, and will undoubtedly try to do better in practice two as Ferrari appears set to capitalize on any mistakes.

Carlos Sainz, who was covered in flow-viz paint as he exited the pits early in the session thanks to McLaren, was one of the drivers who tested tyres for Pirelli.

Logan Sargeant had an encounter off the track at the second Degner curve but managed to keep his Williams undamaged despite a bumpy ride across the kerbs. Oscar Piastri and Lewis Hamilton both suffered the same encounter in an effort to get more time out of their cars later in the practice.

As FP2 approaches, the teams will now be working diligently to perfect their cars in preparation for their second run at Suzuka.

2023 Japanese Grand Prix Free Practice 1 Results

11Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:31.64725
255Carlos SainzFerrari1:32.273+0.626s24
34Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:32.392+0.745s24
416Charles LeclercFerrari1:32.574+0.927s25
522Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:32.597+0.950s21
614Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:32.650+1.003s23
781Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:32.713+1.066s26
823Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:32.991+1.344s24
940Liam LawsonAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:33.005+1.358s28
1018Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:33.040+1.393s17
1111Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:33.043+1.396s25
1210Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:33.129+1.482s23
1363George RussellMercedes1:33.310+1.663s24
1427Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:33.448+1.801s24
1531Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:33.516+1.869s22
1644Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:33.699+2.052s22
1777Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:33.860+2.213s24
1820Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:33.975+2.328s23
192Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:34.212+2.565s27
2024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:34.831+3.184s23

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