Vettel goes fastest in first practice at Suzuka

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Japan, Circuit Suzukajp

Sebastian Vettel ended up fastest in the first practice session of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend. The Ferrari driver edged out Lewis Hamilton by little more than 2 tenths of a second. Daniel Ricciardo followed up for Red Bull, 0.375s down on the pace setter.

With conditions being optimal early on, and expected to get worse as the day progressed, teams got into it quickly, resulting in lots of track action and exchanges at the top of the timesheet.

Lewis Hamilton set the early pace and topped the times before the session was interrupted by a heavy crash from Carlos Sainz. The Spanish Toro Rosso driver had gone slightly wide on the exit of Turn 11, causing him to loose rear grip on the grass and sending him head on into the barriers on the inside of the corner. The Spaniard was unhurt, but his car incurred serious damage. It would not be a surprise if the team has to replace some components and serve grid penalties. These would however not be apparent, as he already faces a 20-place grid demotion due to power unit element changes.

It was only after the interruption that Ferrari put its drivers out on the super soft tyres, enabling Vettel to go fastest and thereby improve on the official track record. Kimi Raikkonen stranded at nearly half a second of his German team mate to go 4th fastest, still ahead of Bottas and Verstappen. The latter had a bit of a moment at Spoon Curve on a hot lap, and later also encountered charge issues the prevented him from going faster.

Esteban Ocon was 7th fastest, ahead of Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Vandoorne.

The final 5 minutes saw a cloud cover the circuit with water, rendering any further improvement attempts futile.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
15Sebastian VettelFerrari1:29.166-23
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:29.377+0.211s29
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:29.541+0.375s27
47Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:29.638+0.472s22
577Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:30.151+0.985s30
633Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:30.762+1.596s26
731Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:30.899+1.733s22
827Nico HulkenbergRenault1:30.974+1.808s24
98Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:31.032+1.866s22
102Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:31.202+2.036s24
1120Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:31.216+2.050s15
1214Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:31.235+2.069s19
1311Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:31.530+2.364s23
1418Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:31.602+2.436s22
1530Jolyon PalmerRenault1:31.757+2.591s22
1619Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:31.912+2.746s20
1755Carlos SainzToro Rosso1:32.252+3.086s14
1810Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:32.501+3.335s18
1994Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:32.897+3.731s29
209Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:33.397+4.231s28