Fernando Alonso set the pace early this morning ahead of the Ferraris in a rain-soaked first practice session for the return of the Japanese Grand Prix.
Formula 1 teams headed back to Suzuka this weekend for the first time since 2019 and were met with a wet start on Friday morning after torrential downpours.
The rain, which could hamper Sunday’s race, eased off enough for drivers to take to the track with intermediate tyres to test out their machinery at Suzuka.
Alonso managed to post a topping 1:42.240 and was three-tenths faster than Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, who both had moments off the track.
When the session ended, disaster struck Mick Schumacher in the haas when he lost control of his car in the worsening conditions as he made his way back to the pits.
The German driver spun 360 into the gravel and slammed into the barriers, causing major damage to his car. The Haas mechanics will be working overtime to get that VF-22 ready for tomorrow.
Elsewhere on the timesheets as the session came to a close was Alonso’s Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon, who was fourth on the board when time ran out.
Max Verstappen, who will be looking to clinch an early title win this weekend, completed just four laps and finished sixth behind the other Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
The Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were far down the order and as the rain picked up again towards the end of the session, the pair ended up 13th and 18th respectively – far off the pace of this morning’s front runners.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel was slowest overall for Aston Martin in what will be his final Japanese GP.
George Russell led a one-two from his teammate Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes shows impressive pace in another wet practice later this morning for FP2 ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
Russell’s best lap in 1:41.935 put him two-tenths clear of Hamilton with Max Verstappen a further six tenths back as he edged out Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez for third.
Charles Leclerc finished in 11th after a challenging session for the Monegasque driver. It began with the Ferrari narrowly escaping a collision with the barrier as he went off track at Turn 11 in the wet conditions.
The Monegasque then missed out on the limited time on the track as Ferrari sorted an issue with his brakes – but after returning to the track he admitted that his car still felt “really bad”.
Elsewhere on the timesheets, Kevin Magnussen took an impressive fifth for Haas, beating out the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, while Fernando Alonso went seventh.
Mick Schumacher was absent on track during the second practice after damaging his car in a crash in the opening session.
An additional 30 minutes added to the session – making it 90 minutes in total – had been intended to be used to test Pirelli’s tyres for next season, but the wet conditions meant the test was cancelled.
The extra running time instead allowed some teams to collect more information in the wet, but several drivers stuck to standard running plans and did not take to the track during the additional period.
Dry conditions are expected for qualifying, however, there is a possibility of rain falling during Sunday’s race.