F1 Japanese GP | FP1 | Verstappen leads Perez and Sainz; Sargeant crashes heavily

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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At RB F1, Ayumu Iwasa replaced Daniel Ricciardo in first practice as the Faenza-based team used this session as an opportunity to tick off one of the two where a rookie must be run in FP1 during the season.

The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton posted the first time on a 1:32.945, before Lando Norris beat it by 0.178s a few seconds later. Both drivers were on the mediums.

A 1:32.667 put Carlos Sainz on top briefly on hards. However, a 1:31.781 put Norris into P1 again, 0.032s in front of Perez. Alonso, Leclerc, Hamilton, Tsunoda, Sainz, Piastri, Russell and Guanyu completed the top 10 with 10 minutes gone.

On his first attempt after coming out later, Max Verstappen slotted into 9th place on the hard tyres, 0.854s away from Norris.

0.291s covered Norris, Perez, Alonso, Leclerc, Russell, Hamilton and Sainz after 15 minutes. The Ferraris and Perez ran on the hards, with everyone else on the mediums.

The tight gaps got even tighter as Fernando Alonso did the exact time as Lando Norris. Carlos Sainz repeated it, joining teammate Charles Leclerc on a 1:31.913. Max Verstappen moved into P7 moments later, 0.166s away from the benchmark time.

On his third flying lap, a 1:31.463 from Max Verstappen put him 0.318s clear of Norris and Alonso. Perez, Russell, Leclerc, Sainz, Hamilton, Tsunoda and Bottas completed the top 10 as the halfway point approached.

The first car out on softs was Lewis Hamilton, and the seven-time World Champion went top on a 1:30.543 — he did get deep in the last chicane and lost time.

A nightmare run continued for Williams as Logan Sargeant got wide at turn 7 after taking too much kerb, ended up on the grass and crashed into the barriers, going in with the front wing and then also a rear end impact as the car went around.

The red flag period to clear Sargeant’s car and debris took over 10 minutes before the session resumed with 19 minutes left.

Nico Hülkenberg got the black and white warning flag for putting a wheel over the white line on pit exit as he tried to pass the RB.

World Champion Max Verstappen got clear track and pumped in a 1:30.056, 0.181s quicker than stablemate Sergio Perez. Only 2 hundredths away after sector 2, Carlos Sainz ultimately slotted into P3, 0.213s away from his former teammate.

Russell, Hamilton, Leclerc, Alonso, Piastri, Tsunoda and Norris completed the top 10. The second McLaren failed to make any real gains on the soft as Norris had been out on track on a lap before the red flag was thrown.

Ocon, Albon, Hülkenberg, Bottas, Stroll, Iwasa, Gasly, Guanyu, Magnussen and Sargeant completed the second half of the order. Iwasa finished just under 0.9s away from Yuki Tsunoda.