Event: Japanese Grand Prix
Track: Suzuka Circuit

Weather: dry  27.7°C
Tarmac: dry  37.6°C
Humidity : 75.0%
Wind : 4.6 km/h S
Pressure: 1004 mbar

FP1 Roundup: Verstappen Flies, McLaren and Ferrari Duel, Mercedes Keep Cards Close to Chest

Verstappen Shakes Off Singapore Woes

The Formula 1 action returned today with first practice (FP1) at the iconic Suzuka Circuit in Japan. Red Bull's Max Verstappen wasted no time setting the pace, stamping his authority with a time of 1m 31.647s. This dominant performance comes as a relief for the Red Bull camp, which had a challenging weekend in Singapore. Verstappen's teammate, Sergio Perez, however, has a mountain to climb as he lagged behind by nearly 1.4 seconds.

Battle for P2: McLaren vs. Ferrari

Carlos Sainz, fresh off his Singapore victory, finished as the best of the rest, but it's clear that McLaren are not far behind. Lando Norris put in a stellar performance to finish third, closely followed by Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Both teams are keen to establish themselves as the primary challengers to Red Bull, setting the stage for a tantalizing competition as the weekend unfolds.

Rookie Watch: Piastri Shines

On the rookie front, McLaren's Oscar Piastri showed signs of promise despite a hairy moment with an off-track excursion. Piastri finished the session in a respectable P16. Tsunoda, participating in his home Grand Prix, finished the session in fifth, much to the delight of the home fans, but not without some post-session radio drama involving Logan Sargeant.

Mercedes: A Calculated Approach?

Mercedes chose not to reveal their true pace, opting for a different tire strategy by using two sets of medium tires. George Russell and Lewis Hamilton ended the session without setting times on the softs, leaving the paddock guessing about their actual performance capabilities. Will they unleash their full potential in FP2? Only time will tell.

Rain, But No Game-Changer

Though there was a mild threat of rain, it did little to affect the proceedings. A few droplets towards the end of the session did not require any change in tire strategy. All eyes will now be on the second practice session to see if the heavens open up and add another layer of complexity to what is already an intriguing weekend.

Closing Remarks

FP1 set the stage for what appears to be another riveting weekend of racing. Red Bull seem to be back on form, McLaren and Ferrari are locked in a fierce battle for second place, and Mercedes are playing their cards close to their chest.

1:42,248 min was the quickest lap time in a wet FP1 of the last year set by Fernando Alonso in the Alpine A522.

FP1 Times Table 2023 Japanese GP

P No Driver Team Time 1st Gap Laps Tyres
1 1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:31,647 25 S
2 55 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:32,273 +0,626s 24 S
3 4 Lando Norris McLaren 1:32,392 +0,745s 24 S
4 16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:32,574 +0,927s 25 S
5 22 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:32,597 +0,950s 21 S
6 14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin 1:32,650 +1,003s 23 S
7 81 Oscar Piastri McLaren 1:32,713 +1,066s 26 S
8 23 Alex Albon Williams 1:32,991 +1,344s 24 S
9 40 Liam Lawson AlphaTauri 1:33,005 +1,358s 28 S
10 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:33,040 +1,393s 17 S
11 11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1:33,043 +1,396s 25 S
12 10 Pierre Gasly Alpine 1:33,129 +1,482s 23 M
13 63 George Russell Mercedes 1:33,310 +1,663s 24 S
14 27 Nico Hülkenberg Haas 1:33,448 +1,801s 24 S
15 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:33,516 +1,869s 22 S
16 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:33,699 +2,052s 22 M
17 77 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:33,860 +2,213s 24 M
18 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:33,975 +2,328s 23 S
19 2 Logan Sargeant Williams 1:34,212 +2,565s 27 S
20 24 Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:34,831 +3,184s 23 M

✅ Check out our 2023 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix preview.

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