FP1: Vettel P1, Sainz crashes heavily


Sebastian Vettel was the man to beat in Friday’s first practice for the Japanese GP, a session that was red flagged for Carlos Sainz’s heavy crash.

Heading into the final 30 minutes of play, the Toro Rosso driver ran wide at the exit of the hairpin and went onto the kerb and astroturf.

He was spat back across the track and smashed in the barrier, causing significant damage to the front end of his STR.

Sainz was unhurt, telling his team that he was “okay” but didn’t know what led to the crash.

The session was red flagged as the marshals cleared away his stricken car and the debris.

It was Lewis Hamilton on the supersoft tyres who was leading the way at the time with a 1:29.377 while Vettel was second.

Despite running the soft tyres, the Ferrari driver was just 0.042 down on his title rival.

The session resumed at 11:07 local time with both Ferraris heading out for their first supersoft tyre run of the morning.

Vettel went purple in the first and second sectors on his way to 1:29.166, beating Hamilton by 0.211s.

Daniel Ricciardo, who briefly led the way earlier in the session, was third, 0.375s down.

Kimi Raikkonen was fourth for the morning ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who had a bit of a scruffy session.

The Finn had a hairy moment as he ran it a bit wide approaching Turn 1, put the left side tyres on the grass and kicked up dirt as he fought with the car to avoid a crash.

It wasn’t Bottas’ only moment as he also got it wrong through the second Degner, that costing him a good lap on a new set of supersofts.

Sixth place went to Max Verstappen, another to have a big moment as the back end of his RB13 stepped out on him forcing him off the track.

Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean and Stoffel Vandoorne completed the top ten.

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’29.166 23
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’29.377 0.211 29
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’29.541 0.375 27
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’29.638 0.472 22
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1’30.151 0.985 30
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’30.762 1.596 26
7 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1’30.899 1.733 22
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1’30.974 1.808 24
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’31.032 1.866 22
10 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 1’31.202 2.036 24
11 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1’31.216 2.050 15
12 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’31.235 2.069 19
13 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’31.530 2.364 23
14 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1’31.602 2.436 22
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’31.757 2.591 22
16 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’31.912 2.746 20
17 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’32.252 3.086 14
18 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Renault 1’32.501 3.335 18
19 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 1’32.897 3.731 29
20 arcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’33.397 4.231 28