Japanese GP: Fernando Alonso leads sodden Practice 1 at Suzuka

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Fernando Alonso set the pace in a soggy Practice 1 at the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday.

As Formula 1 hit the track at Suzuka for the first time since 2019, the weather sadly refused to co-operate with steady rain falling since the early morning.

Happily, conditions were not so bad to prevent any running with the rain easing enough to allow drivers onto intermediate tyres after initially starting on the full wets.

And Alonso caught picked the perfect moment to set a 1m42.248s to go fastest just before the rain returned in the final 20 minutes.

The two Ferraris sat second and third with Carlos Sainz less than a tenth clear of teammate Charles Leclerc, who had a moment going into the gravel when conditions began to worsen.

Esteban Ocon backed up Alpine's strong pace in the wet in fourth, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who was the first man on track at the start of the session, and used his extra laps compared to finish fifth.

In contrast, Max Verstappen only completed four laps and was still sixth despite being one of the earlier drivers onto the intermediates in the Red Bull.

Mick Schumacher was seventh but crashed due to aquaplaning at the Dunlop curve after the chequered flag, causing some hefty damage to the Haas.

Lando Norris finished eighth, as Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez completed the top 10.

Further down, Daniel Ricciardo was 12th after a few slips and slides in the McLaren. 

Lewis Hamilton was the lead Mercedes in 13th, while an oil leak limited teammate George Russell's running to the final 20 minutes, meaning he finished only 18th.

Nicholas Latifi was another to test the gravel in 17th and home favourite Yuki Tsunoda completed the most laps but was only 19th in the AlphaTauri.

Full results from Practice 1 can be seen below: