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Max sixth fastest in Suzuka FP1

Published on 07 October 2022 by Stefan Meens

Max Verstappen opened his Japanese Grand Prix weekend with P6 in the first Friday practice session. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was quickest round the Suzuka circuit with the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc completing the top three. Max’ Oracle Red Bull Racing team mate Sergio Perez was tenth quickest. 

At the start of the session, it is raining, meaning the teams are hesitant to do any early running. Nevertheless, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen end AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda brave the conditions after a couple of minutes. Both return to the pits swiftly with Tsunoda telling his team that are ‘a few small rivers in sector one’. 

It is not until fifteen minutes into practice that the first lap is clocked. The honour goes to Mick Schumacher in his Haas on the full-wet Pirelli tyres. Soon after, the two Ferraris have joined the track and continue to trade fastest laps as the circuit and lap times improve. 

At the halfway point of the hour-long session, Max steers the RB18 out of the garage on intermediates and instantly goes quickest as the conditions improve by every lap. Soon after, the reigning champion returns to the team and with seventeen minutes to go, the Dutchman hops out of his car to call it a day for FP1. 

Meanwhile, the lap times continue to improve with Fernando Alonso setting the pace ahead of the two Ferraris. The Alpine ace holds on to P1 as the rain intensifies in the closing stages. Apart from a Zhou Guanyu lap, nobody is on track in the remaining ten minutes until several drivers head out for practice start at the very end of FP1. 

On his way back to the pit after practicing his start, and officially after the end of the session, Mick Schumacher crashes and heavily damages his Haas.  

Contest GP Japan: win a by Max Verstappen signed blue RBR Driver Cap 2022!

Results first free practice Japan:

1Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault1:42.248 7
2Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:42.563+0.315s15
3Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:42.634+0.386s16
4Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:43.022+0.774s5
5Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:43.258+1.010s15
6Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing RBPT1:43.362+1.114s4
7Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari1:43.761+1.513s13
8Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:43.889+1.641s7
9Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:43.969+1.721s13
10Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing RBPT1:44.234+1.986s4
11Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:44.429+2.181s15
12Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes1:44.486+2.238s8
13Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:44.558+2.310s6
14Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:44.570+2.322s10
15Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:44.791+2.543s9
16Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri RBPT1:44.878+2.630s12
17Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes1:45.424+3.176s11
18George RussellRUSMercedes1:46.103+3.855s4
19Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri RBPT1:46.192+3.944s16
20Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes1:48.090+5.842s8