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Formula 1: Max Verstappen already the fastest in Japan

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) set the best time in the first free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, the fourth round of 24 of the Formula 1 World Championship, Friday at the Suzuka circuit (5.

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Formula 1: Max Verstappen already the fastest in Japan

Max Verstappen (Red Bull) set the best time in the first free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix, the fourth round of 24 of the Formula 1 World Championship, Friday at the Suzuka circuit (5.807 km).

Two weeks after his retirement in Australia, the first in two years, the Dutchman, very comfortable on the fast Japanese track, confirmed his status as big favorite for the Grand Prix on Sunday by dominating the first free practice session.

The three-time world champion beat his Mexican teammate Sergio Pérez and Spaniard Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), winner in Melbourne, by 181 and 213 thousandths respectively.

The Mercedes of Britons George Russell and Lewis Hamilton took fourth and fifth places, ahead of the other Ferrari of Monegasque Charles Leclerc, relegated to half a second behind Verstappen.

The Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) is in seventh place ahead of the Australian Oscar Piastri (McLaren) and the local Yuki Tsunoda (Racing Bulls), while the Briton Lando Norris completes the Top 10.

The French Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, in great difficulty since the start of the season at the wheel of their Alpine single-seater, finished 11th and 17th respectively.

The Japanese Ayumu Iwasa, who usually drives in F2, took 16th place at the wheel of the second Racing Bulls for his first participation in F1 free practice.

The session was marked by the high speed exit of the track by the American Logan Sargeant, which slightly damaged his Williams and caused a red flag. Even if his team does not have a spare chassis, like in Australia, he should be able to take part in the second practice session on Friday afternoon.

In Melbourne two weeks ago, the American had to give up his seat to his Thai teammate Alex Albon, who destroyed his car during Friday practice. Forfeited, Sargeant had attended qualifying and the race from the Williams garage after its managers had decided to favor Albon, more likely to win points for the team, according to them.

. 1st free practice session:

Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull) 1:30.056 (18 tours)

Sergio Pérez (MEX/Red Bull) 1:30.237 (18)

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Ferrari) 1:30.269 (20)

George Russell (GBR/Mercedes) 1:30.530 (18)

Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) 1:30.543 (23)

Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari) 1:30.558 (18)

Fernando Alonso (ESP/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:30.599 (20)

Oscar Piastri (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:31.165 (23)

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/Racing Bulls-Red Bull) 1:31.230 (20)

Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:31.240 (22)

Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault) 1:31.935 (19)

Alexander Albon (THA/Williams-Mercedes) 1:31.943 (18)

Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Haas-Ferrari) 1:31.958 (19)

Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Sauber-Ferrari) 1:32.054 (17)

Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes) 1:32.055 (17)

Ayumu Iwasa (JPN/Racing Bulls-Red Bull) 1:32.103 (22)

Pierre Gasly (FRA/Alpine-Renault) 1:32.277 (23)

Zhou Guanyu (CHN/Sauber-Ferrari) 1:32.638 (18)

Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Haas-Ferrari) 1:32.803 (21)

Logan Sargeant (USA/Williams-Mercedes) 1:33.204 (10)

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