F1 – Alonso quickest in wet opening practice in Japan 

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.

2022 FIA Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:42.248  7 204.455
2 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:42.563 0.315 15 203.827
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:42.634 0.386 16 203.686
4 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:43.022 0.774 5 202.919
5 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1:43.258 1.010 15 202.455
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:43.362 1.114 4 202.252
7 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:43.761 1.513 13 201.474
8 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:43.889 1.641 7 201.226
9 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:43.969 1.721 13 201.071
10 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:44.234 1.986 4 200.560
11 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:44.429 2.181 15 200.185
12 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:44.486 2.238 8 200.076
13 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:44.558 2.310 6 199.938
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:44.570 2.322 10 199.915
15 Alexander Albon Williams/Mercedes 1:44.791 2.543 9 199.494
16 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:44.878 2.630 12 199.328
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:45.424 3.176 11 198.296
18 George Russell Mercedes 1:46.103 3.855 4 197.027
19 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Red Bull 1:46.192 3.944 16 196.862
20 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:48.090 5.842 8 193.405

Source : Fia