BWT Alpine F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso recorded the fastest time in Free Practice 1 as Formula 1 returned to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time in three years. Fernando adapted quickly to the challenging conditions at the rain soaked Suzuka Circuit as he jumped to first place in the first Practice Session.
Esteban Ocon finished a solid fourth place in Free Practice 1 and ninth in Free Practice 2 as he, like Fernando, quickly got up to speed at the legendary 5.807km racetrack.
“It’s really fantastic to be driving in Japan again after so many years. I have missed this track and it was great to experience it with these cars. As expected, it was a wet one today, but we did get more running in the end than we originally thought we would. The car performed well in both sessions and we recorded some good data on the programmes that we ran today. I definitely got the most of that one set of Intermediate tyres! I’m looking forward to what looks like some dry running tomorrow and a good Qualifying for the team.”
“It was a good day for us and it’s great to be back in Suzuka. Although the rain doesn’t help our preparations, I felt sorry for the fans who stayed out in this weather all day long. I always prefer the dry weather if I’m honest. The car felt good in both sessions for us today and it was nice to be in first position at the end of Free Practice 1. I’m excited for tomorrow and let’s see what we can do in potentially dry conditions.”
Pat Fry, Chief Technical Officer
“Today was obviously very wet and everyone’s running was fairly restricted by just wanting to use one set of Intermediates and to do limited running on a full wet tyre without damaging them. We did enough laps to get a feel for the car balance in these conditions as well as working through our start programme. At the moment tomorrow is predicted to be dry so we will have a busy final practice to do everything that we normally would do on a Friday; a mixture of tyre evaluation and high and low fuel running. There is a threat of rain on race day, but potentially just after the race, so we will need to be prepared for all conditions.”