Japanese GP: Fernando Alonso tops FP1 at wet Suzuka

Fernando Alonso looks on in first practice at the Japanese GP

Fernando Alonso went fastest in a wet FP1 session ahead of the two Ferrari cars of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

Heavy rain was forecast for Friday and heavy rain is what we got ahead of the first practice session at Suzuka since 2019.

Indeed, the rain would ease up as the session went on before another shower, and so the tyres of choice would remain intermediate and wet throughout, as the drivers once again got a taste of wet running for a second weekend straight following on from the Singapore Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso fastest in FP1

Fernando Alonso in the Belgian GP paddock

The session, then, probably won’t be too representative of final pace this weekend but it was Alonso who at least took the honours of going fastest in his Alpine, ahead of the Ferrari pair of Leclerc and Sainz.

His best time was three-tenths quicker than the Scuderia duo whilst it was the other Alpine of Esteban Ocon that finished in fourth, and proved to be the only other driver within a second of Alonso in the tricky conditions.

Alpine might be hoping the wet weather remains for qualifying and the race judging by this showing at least, then.

In P5 was Kevin Magnussen in the Haas and they were looking quick in the wet as well, with team-mate Mick Schumacher going seventh fastest before having a crash into the barriers that heavily damaged the front of his car, with him aquaplaning off.

Between the Haas cars was Max Verstappen, as he looks to seize the title this weekend and put the championship to bed with four races to spare – he’ll surely be hoping for dry conditions in qualifying and the race to at least take one risk out of this weekend.

Lando Norris, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez completed the top 10, meanwhile.

What next at Suzuka?

Carlos Sainz drives in practice at the Japanese GP
SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 07: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari F1-75 on track during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka International Racing Course on October 07, 2022 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

That’s the first practice session done and FP2 will follow shortly, with it getting underway at 7am UK time.

It’s an hour and a half long, with an extra 30 minutes allowed as Pirelli want to do a tyre test for 2023, though the rain is expected to stick around and that may scupper data collection in some respects.

Mick Schumacher will also be hoping his car can be repaired in time to get back out there for FP2, with him needing every lap and mile as he bids to learn this track for the first time as a Formula 1 driver and with his future at Haas still uncertain.

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