Carlos Sainz Jr topped a practice session for the first time by setting the fastest time in the first session in Japan as heavy rain meant eight drivers did not set a time.
Persistent rain meant many drivers did one installation lap early in the session before waiting it out in the pits, with Max Verstappen the first driver to set a lap time more than fifty minutes into the session on the full wets with a time of 1m51.741s.
The Williams drivers were the first to switch to the intermediate tyre as the rain finally began to ease, but it was Sainz in his Scuderia Toro Rosso that set the best time of the session of 1m49.434s, which was more than half a second clear of Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniil Kvyat.
Nico Rosberg was third quickest for the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team and was using the engine that was initially fitted at Monza for the first time since it was taken off the car when an issue was found that weekend. Rosberg will revert to the engine fitted for the Singapore Grand Prix last time out for the rest of the Japanese weekend.
Last weekend’s Singapore winner Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Scuderia Ferrari ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who set his first timed lap with just twelve minutes to go, while Verstappen’s Toro Rosso ultimately ended sixth.
Kimi Raikkonen was the busiest driver in terms of laps completed during the session with fifteen, and ended seventh for Ferrari ahead of Felipe Massa of Williams and Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, while the second Williams of Valtteri Bottas completed the top ten.
Felipe Nasr of Sauber and Jenson Button of McLaren-Honda were the only other drivers to set a lap time, while the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Fernando Alonso, the Sahara Force India, Lotus and the Manor drivers did not set a time.
Suzuka Free Practice 1 Times
|1||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m49.434s|
|2||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m49.938s|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m50.940s|
|13||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||No Time|
|14||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||No Time|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||No Time|
|16||14||Fernando Alonso||ESP||McLaren-Honda||No Time|
|17||13||Pastor Maldonado||VEN||Lotus-Mercedes||No Time|
|18||30||Jolyon Palmer||GBR||Lotus-Mercedes||No Time|
|19||28||Will Stevens||GBR||Manor-Ferrari||No Time|
|20||53||Alexander Rossi||USA||Manor-Ferrari||No Time|