Japanese GP: Max Verstappen fastest in Practice One in upgraded Red Bull as Logan Sargeant crashes | F1 News

Max Verstappen made the perfect start in his attempt to get back to winning ways at the Japanese GP by leading team-mate Sergio Perez and Melbourne victor Carlos Sainz in Practice One as Red Bull revealed their first big car upgrade of the season at Suzuka.

But Williams suffered a fresh and unwanted setback as Logan Sargeant’s first session back after being withdrawn from the Australian GP when the team were left with just one useable chassis lasted just 29 minutes when the American crashed at the high-speed Dunlop corner.

Sargeant is running the chassis that team-mate Alex Albon crashed during first practice in Melbourne a fortnight ago and which had to be sent back to the team’s UK factory for repairs between the two flyaway races. Albon was given Sargeant’s car to complete the remainder of the Melbourne weekend.

“Luckily he’s gone in with the nose of the car first,” said Sky Sports F1’s Anthony Davidson after replays showed Sargeant straying wide onto the grass on the exit of the left-hander and then losing control on the gravel.

“I’m not seeing any damage around the suspension area. If that was side impact, I dread to think what that chassis would have gone through yet again.”

Williams team principal James Vowles admitted the accident had done “extensive damage” to the FW46, although confirmed that the chassis itself was fine. The team remain without a spare third chassis for this event.

The accident brought out the weekend’s first red flag just before opening practice’s half-way point and, when the session did resume, Verstappen hit the front when he put on the soft tyres with a quickest lap of 1:30.056.

Perez finished 0.181s back in the sister car, with the in-form Sainz close behind in the lead Ferrari in third.

After a woeful Melbourne, when they were again off the pace and registered their first double DNF for six years, Mercedes could take early encouragement from the running in Japan too with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton between the two Ferraris in fourth and fifth respectively.

“The drivers took more comfortable on track than they did in Melbourne,” said Davidson.

“That Mercedes splitting the two Ferraris and only four-and-a-half tenths away from a heavily-upgraded Red Bull with Verstappen putting a sweet lap in, for me that’s the surprise of the season.”

Hamilton ran a new power unit in the opening session after Mercedes confirmed on Friday morning that the one that failed on his W15 in Melbourne could not be used again.

Charles Leclerc was sixth in the second Ferrari with Fernando Alonso the lead Aston Martin in seventh, despite team-mate Lance Stroll, who was 15th, running the new sidepods the team have brought to Suzuka as the team back-to-backed old and new design in the opening session.

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Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz sits down with AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda to preview his home race at the Japanese Grand Prix.

McLaren briefly topped the timesheet earlier in the session but were eventually shuffled down to eighth (Oscar Piastri) and 10th positions (Lando Norris) having had to abort their initial soft-tyre runs for Sargeant’s shunt. Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda in between them in ninth for RB.

Red Bull’s sister team fielded an all-Japanese line-up in the opening session as junior driver Ayumu Iwasa, 22, was given his debut F1 practice run-out in Daniel Ricciardo’s car. Iwasa, who finished fourth in last year’s F2 championship, completed 22 laps and finished with the 16th-fastest time, lapping nine tenths slower than Tsunoda.

Ricciardo, under growing pressure to up his game after a disappointing start to the season, returns for Practice Two live at 7am on Sky Sports F1.

What’s new on the Red Bull, Ferrari and Aston Martin?

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Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz talks through the various upgrades Red Bull and Ferrari have made to their cars for the Japanese Grand Prix.

The majority of F1’s 10 teams have brought upgrades to the season’s fourth round for a Suzuka circuit which represents one of a biggest test of a car’s aerodynamics of the season.

Red Bull revealed a four-pronged package of changes: a new sidepod inlet design for improved air flow and efficiency, revised smaller front brake ducts, plus changes to the all-important floor and floor edge.

“At a circuit like Suzuka which rewards aerodynamic efficiency this is really a significant upgrade from Red Bull,” said Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz.

“They have brought four things which should make then even quicker.

“Impressive stuff from the world champions.”

Ferrari are running a higher-downforce rear wing, while Aston Martin have brought a big upgrade to their car’s floor in addition to revised diffuser and sidepod design.

Japanese GP Practice One Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:30.056
2) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.181
3) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.213
4) George Russell Mercedes +0.474
5) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.487
6) Charles Leclerc Ferrari +0.502
7) Fernando Alonso Aston Martin +0.543
8) Oscar Piastri McLaren +1.109
9) Yuki Tsunoda RB +1.174
10) Lando Norris McLaren +1.184
11) Esteban Ocon Alpine +1.879
12) Alex Albon Williams +1.887
13) Nico Hulkenberg Haas +1.902
14) Valtteri Bottas Sauber +1.998
15) Lance Stroll Aston Martin +1.999
16) Ayumu Iwasa RB +2.047
17) Pierre Gasly Alpine +2.221
18) Zhou Guanyu Sauber +2.582
19) Kevin Magnussen Haas +2.747
20) Logan Sargeant Williams +3.148

Sky Sports F1’s live Japanese GP schedule

Friday April 5
6.45am: Japanese GP Practice Two (session starts at 7am)*
8.15am: The F1 Show*
10am: Japanese GP Practice One replay
11.30am: Japanese GP Practice Two replay

Saturday April 6
3.15am: Japanese GP Practice Three (session starts at 3.30am)*
6am: Japanese GP Qualifying build-up*
7am: Japanese GP Qualifying*
9am: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese GP Qualifying replay

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Look back on some of the most exciting title deciders to take place at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Sunday April 7
5am: Grand Prix Sunday Japanese GP build-up*
8am: Chequered Flag: Japanese GP reaction*
9am: Ted’s Notebook*
9.30am: Japanese Grand Prix highlights*
10.30am: Japanese Grand Prix replay

*also live on Sky Sports Main Event

Formula 1’s biggest ever season continues with the Japanese Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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