In what could prove to be a pivotal weekend for the world championship at the pinnacle of motorsport and after two years of Formula 1 inactivity, the action got underway at a very rainy Suzuka circuit for the 2022 Japanese GP.
The first driver out on track with five minutes gone into the session was Kevin Magnussen with full-wets, followed immediately by home debutant Yuki Tsunoda, who immediately returned to the pits reporting "rivers" in sector 1. Kevin Magnussen followed back to the garage shortly after, in what was the only action on the track during the first 10 minutes of practice.
Nicholas Latifi, Lance Stroll, Sebastian Vettel, Mick Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton were the next drivers out on track, with the young German the first driver to set a lap time, stopping the clock at 1:53.537s.
Most of the drivers headed out for a run 20 minutes into the session. Carlos Sainz clocked 1:49.024, swapping the top spot with teammate Charles Leclerc, who was the first to suggest switching to the intermediate compound, despite only six drivers having the chance to set a timed lap at that stage of the session.
Half an hour into the first Free Practice was when the Red Bull drivers finally headed to the track, as Max Verstappen went out for his first laps of the weekend on the intermediate tyres, the first one of the afternoon in Japan, followed shortly by Sergio Perez.
The Dutchman, on his first timed lap, was 3.699s quicker than the previous fastest time set by Carlos Sainz, taking the timesheet's lead as rain loomed over the Suzuka circuit. Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas kept the decision of changing to the green tyres, as the Frenchman set the fastest time with just 20 minutes left on the clock and the rain starting to fall harder again.
Conditions on track worsened in the final 15 minutes of the session and so it was not possible for the drivers to beat the fastest lap set by Alpine and Fernando Alonso 0.315s quicker than the Ferrari drivers and team-mate Esteban Ocon in P4. Kevin Magnussen, Max Verstappen in P6, Mick Schumacher, Norris, Valtteri Bottas and Perez completed the top 10 at Suzuka.
As the drivers headed out on track for the last four minutes of the session, Mick Schumacher's Haas span and hit the barrier by the end of FP1.
The second practice session will last 90 minutes and rain is forecast to continue throughout Friday.
🏁 END OF FP1 🏁— Formula 1 (@F1) October 7, 2022
Fernando tops our first session at Suzuka! 👊