FP1: Hamilton off to strong start at Suzuka

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Japan, Circuit Suzukajp

Suzuka has been very kind to Mercedes in recent years, and it seems like the Silver Arrows is again feeling very well at home at the Japanese track. Lewis Hamilton easily went fastest and topped his team mate by nearly half a second.

The Briton set his best on Pirelli's soft tyres, as he, just like team mate Valtteri Bottas, opted not to run the softest compound just yet. Hamilton seemed at ease from the first lap and ended ahead. He was lucky though to avoid a collision with Pierre Gasly early on in the session. The Toro Rosso driver was later reprimanded for his slow running on the racing line in approach to the final chicane.

Daniel Ricciardo came closest to the Mercedes duo at nearly 7 tenths of the pace setter. The Australian did however use Pirelli's super soft tyres to do so, therefore masking the bigger gap that exists between Mercedes and the rest.

Raikkonen was 4th, and despite sitting out nearly half of the session, he still ended up quicker than team mate Sebastian Vettel. Both Ferraris did use the super soft tyres as well, with Vettel reporting after the session that he felt like Ferrari is harder on the tyres than their nearest rivals.

Max Verstappen was 6th quickest in the Red Bull, clearly unhappy with the balance of his car.

Esteban Ocon was best of the rest in 7th, ahead of Grosjean, Leclerc and Ericsson, putting both Saubers into the top 10.

At the back, it was McLaren and Renault once again, with Hartley mixing them up as he complained of power issues. A rare mistake saw Alonso kick up some gravel and damage the floor of his car, cutting his session short after 21 laps. Sergey Sirotkin and Lando Norris, who was given more practice time at McLaren in Vandoorne's car, were the only two drivers lower down on the timing sheet.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarTimeGapLaps
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:28.691-25
277Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:29.137+0.446s26
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:29.373+0.682s32
47Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:29.627+0.936s20
55Sebastian VettelFerrari1:29.685+0.994s20
633Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:29.841+1.150s30
731Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:30.591+1.900s28
88Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:30.814+2.123s22
916Charles LeclercSauber Ferrari1:30.929+2.238s27
109Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:31.073+2.382s29
1110Pierre GaslyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:31.073+2.382s20
1255Carlos SainzRenault1:31.100+2.409s23
1311Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:31.272+2.581s29
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:31.274+2.583s28
1527Nico HulkenbergRenault1:31.418+2.727s18
1618Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:31.508+2.817s27
1728Brendon HartleyScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:31.908+3.217s23
1814Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Renault1:32.034+3.343s21
1935Sergey SirotkinWilliams Mercedes1:32.513+3.822s26
2047Lando NorrisMcLaren Renault1:32.683+3.992s30