Sebastian Vettel set the benchmark in the opening practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, going two tenths faster than championship rival Lewis Hamilton only moments after the session resumed following a red flag for a Carlos Sainz Jr accident.
Sainz crashed his Toro Rosso exiting the Turn 11 hairpin, running slightly wide onto the astro-turf behind the kerb and spinning into the tyre barriers on the inside of the circuit.
His car bounced into the air on impact, smashing the front nose and breaking his front-left wheel, stopping the session for a quarter of an hour as marshals recovered his car and the scattered debris left behind.
The rest of the session was much calmer, with sixth quickest Max Verstappen having a brief trip through the gravel trap exiting Spoon curve as he explored the limits of his Red Bull Racing machine.
His team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest, a litle under four tenths off the pace. He and Kimi Räikkönen were the only other drivers behind the title protagonists to be within half a second of Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas once again struggled to match the pace of his team-mate and the Ferraris, coming in a second slower than Vettel and eight tenths off the pace of Hamilton.
There were no Friday testers making appearances in Free Practice one, allowing all twenty regular race drivers as much opportunity as possible to maximise dry running, of which there is forecast to be little in Free Practice two.
Kevin Magnussen lost track time in the middle of the session however, a water pressure issue temporarily sidelining the Dane. Though he resumed shortly thereafter, the issue reoccurred in the closing minutes of the session, just as rain started to fall.
Pierre Gasly was given his first taste of the halo concept, running with the soon-to-be-mandatory device during his installation lap, before reverting to normal for his standard runs on his way to the eighteenth fastest time.
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