Fernando Alonso was the fastest in Friday’s first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen coming in sixth as he attempts to win his second consecutive world championship this weekend.
Alonso, a two-time world champion, sped around the Suzuka circuit in 1min 42.248sec for Alpine, 0.315sec faster than second-placed Carlos Sainz of Ferrari.
Verstappen can claim the championship on Sunday if he wins the race with the quickest lap, regardless of what his competitors perform. However, he only participated briefly in the first practice session.
Red Bull’s leader did not enter the fray until halfway through and recorded a best time of 1 minute and 43.36 seconds.
Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, who is Verstappen’s closest opponent in the championship standings, was third-fastest with a pace of 1min 42.63 seconds.
Esteban Ocon, a teammate of Alonso’s at Alpine, was fourth, Kevin Magnussen of Haas was fifth, and Mick Schumacher was seventh, behind Verstappen.
After the checkered flag, Schumacher spun through the barriers and onto the grass, breaking his front wing. This was the session’s defining moment.
Yuki Tsunoda, a Japanese driver, observed “a few of rivers” on one portion of the track during a preliminary lap as a result of the damp circumstances.
Lewis Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, was 2.31 seconds behind Alonso in thirteenth place, while Mercedes teammate George Russell was 18th due to an oil leak.
Friday’s top ten times from the first practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix:
1. Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine) 1:42.248, 2. Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari) 1:42.563, 3. Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:42.634, 4. Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine), 5. Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas) 1:43.258, 6. Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:43.362, 7. Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas) 1:43.761, 8. Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren) 1:43.889, 9. Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Alfa Romeo) 1:43.969, 10. Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull) 1:44.234