Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton started the 2018 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix on top in the first practice session at Suzuka with Valtteri Bottas in second and Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo in third.
Hamilton set the pace in FP1 with a 1m28.691s lap time on the soft compound to Bottas’ 1m29.137s on the mediums as the weather remained dry all-through the session even though it was overcast.
The British driver had a scary moment early in the session when he found a slow moving Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly in the final sector. Hamilton had to take an evasive action as the incident will be investigated after the session.
A 1m29.373s lap time from Ricciardo on the supersoft tyre put him in third ahead of the Ferrari pairs Kimi Raikkonen (1m29.627s) and Sebastian Vettel (1m29.685s) – also on the supersoft compound.
Bot didn’t look like used full power in the session with Vettel also incurring traffic on his quick lap. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was sixth with a 1m29.841s lap time on the supersoft compound with Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon behind.
The Frenchman looked good on the soft tyre with a 1m30.591s as he beat Haas’ Romain Grosjean (1m30.814s) and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc (1m30.929s) and Marcus Ericsson (1m31.073s) in the Top 10 – all on the supersoft tyres.
Interestingly, Gasly also clocked the same time as Ericsson but on the soft compound. Post his run-in with Hamilton, the Frenchman had an off-moment in Turn 3 collecting grass on the side of his Toro Rosso.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz (1m31.100s) was 12th with Force India’s Sergio Perez (1m31.272s) in 13th – both clocking their best times of the soft compound. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (1m31.274s) looked a bit off in 14th on the supersoft tyre.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg (1m31.518s) finished 15th with Williams’ Lance Stroll (1m31.508s) doing better in 16th from Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley (1m31.908s) – the German was on the soft compound like Hartley with the Canadian on supersoft tyre.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso (1m32.034s), Williams Sergey Sirotkin (1m32.513s) and McLaren’s Lando Norris (1m32.683s) completed the 20 runners with the latter getting another FP1 run in place of Stoffel Vandoorne.
The two McLaren drivers set their times on the medium compound with the Russian doing his on the supersoft. The session also saw Alonso having a gravel moment in Turn 8 on his out lap.