Japanese GP: Rain disrupts Friday practice after Max Verstappen sets early pace and Logan Sargeant crashes | F1 News

Max Verstappen topped the one session of dry practice running that took place on an otherwise rain-affected Friday at the Japanese Grand Prix which saw Williams suffer a fresh setback.

With world championship leaders Red Bull bringing their first significant car upgrade of the season to Suzuka, Verstappen led team-mate Sergio Perez in a one-two at the head of the Practice One timesheet ahead of Ferrari’s Melbourne victor Carlos Sainz in a session that saw Logan Sargeant crash out in his Williams.

But there was no significant running in Practice Two as rain arrived before the session and then continued during the hour, with only a handful of lap times completed by drivers as a result.

Improved conditions in the closing minutes did allow a brief window of dry-tyre running with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri one of those to take up the opportunity, the Australian clocking the fastest of one of only seven lap times in the session.

Verstappen was one of seven drivers to sit out the entirety of the second practice.

Those seven included Sargeant, who had already been ruled out of the session owing to the “extensive” damage sustained in his crash into the barriers at the Dunlop corner during the opening session.

The one solace for Williams was that the American at least did not miss out on any representative running.

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Williams Racing driver Logan Sargeant takes a massive hit into the wall and brings out the red flag during P1 at the Japanese Grand Prix.

What had happened in Practice One?

Sargeant’s accident had served as a fresh and unwanted setback for the beleaguered Williams team two weeks after they had been left with just one useable chassis at the Australian GP.

Sargeant is this weekend running the chassis that team-mate Alex Albon crashed during first practice in Melbourne 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.”

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Williams team principal James Vowles admits Logan Sargeant’s car took ‘significant damage’ after he collided with the wall in P1 and is unsure if it’ll run again in P2.

Williams team principal James Vowles admitted the accident had done “extensive damage” to the FW46, although confirmed that the chassis itself was at least 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 look 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.

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 was 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.

Sky Sports F1’s live Japanese GP schedule

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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