Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Suzuka, 2022

Alonso fastest as Schumacher crashes in wet opening practice in Suzuka

2022 Japanese Grand Prix first practice

Posted on

| Written by

Fernando Alonso set the fastest time during a wet opening practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka as Mick Schumacher crashed his Haas after the chequered flag.

The Alpine driver was quickest on the intermediate tyres with a 1’42.248, ahead of the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc. As conditions first improved, then deteriorated through the hour, Schumacher lost control of his Haas after the chequered flag rounding the Dunlop curve, causing major damage to his car heading into the second session.

Rain earlier in the morning had left plenty of standing water around the circuit, but there was lttle falling as the first F1 practice session at Suzuka for three years got underway. Although many were hesitant at first to venture out onto the track, eventually both Kevin Magnussen and Yuki Tsunoda headed out on exploratory laps on the full wet tyres before pitting.

Around ten minutes into the session, many drivers started to head out onto the circuit for the first time, helping to start and clear away the standing water that was on track. There were reports that the circuit was offering more grip that a lot of the drivers were expecting, with some openly pondering whether intermediate tyres would be more suitable than the extreme wets.

Drivers remained cautious as they refamiliarised themselves around the Suzuka circuit, with Leclerc setting the fastest time on the wet weather tyres with a 1’48.104. That was beaten by team mate Sainz, who went three tenths of a second quicker, also on the full wets.

Around half an hour into the session, championship leader Max Verstappen left the garage for the first time on the intermediate tyres. Any question of which of the two wet tyres were the better suited for the slippery conditions was answered when the Red Bull driver immediately went fastest by over three seconds.

Nicholas Latifi had a brief trip over the gravel at the hairpin after locking up under braking and skidding off the asphalt. Thankfully for the Williams driver, he was able to recover back on the track and continue on his way without interrupting the session.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Drivers began to improve across the field on the intermediate tyres, with Fernando Alonso going quickest with a 1’42.248. However, Leclerc was warned that more rain was expected over the final 20 minutes of the session and Ferrari were soon proved right as the conditions visibly worsened with the rain intensifying.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Suzuka, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Japanese Grand Prix practice in pictures
As surface water increased and grip levels fell, Leclerc had a brief trip across the gravel between the two Degner corners, leading him to abandon his run and return to the safety of the garage. He joined the rest of the field, the track falling silent once again with just under ten minutes of session time remaining.

Fortunately for the thousands of eager fans around the Suzuka circuit, there was some track action in the closing minutes as around half the field opted to head back out for a final run on wet tyres. Valtteri Bottas demonstrated just how much the grip levels had fallen when he ran off track at the 130R, but managed to rejoin the track using the asphalt run off.

The chequered flag flew to signal the end of the session, leaving Alonso as the fastest driver at the end of the hour. However, as the remaining drivers returned to the pits, Schumacher lost control of his Haas heading up the hill approaching the Degners and spun into the barriers, wrecking his car. The Medical Car was deployed, but Schumacher was able to climb out of his VF-22 unaided, reporting that he had aquaplaned off the course while cresting the brow of the hill.

Alonso was ultimately three tenths faster than the two Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc, with Esteban Ocon finishing the session in fourth position. Kevin Magnussen was fifth fastest in the Haas, ahead of Verstappen and the crashed Schumacher in seventh. Lando Norris was eighth for McLaren with the top ten completed by Bottas and Sergio Perez.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Japanese Grand Prix first practice result

114Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’42.2487
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’42.5630.31515
316Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’42.6340.38616
431Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’43.0220.7745
520Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’43.2581.01015
61Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’43.3621.1144
747Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’43.7611.51313
84Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’43.8891.6417
977Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’43.9691.72113
1011Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’44.2341.9864
1124Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’44.4292.18115
123Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’44.4862.2388
1344Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’44.5582.3106
1418Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’44.5702.32210
1523Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’44.7912.5439
1610Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’44.8782.63012
176Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’45.4243.17611
1863George RussellMercedesW131’46.1033.8554
1922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’46.1923.94416
205Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’48.0905.8428

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Japanese Grand Prix articles

Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

15 comments on “Alonso fastest as Schumacher crashes in wet opening practice in Suzuka”

  1. Oh please no, now we get post credits scenes in F1 as well ?

  2. Oops. Forgot about practice times…

    They are there, are they not displaying for you?

    1. I just completely forgot about it. Not your fault.
      Bathurst 1000 this weekend ;)

      1. You still watch that race? I stopped after 2018 when the Falcon v Holden war ended. These days I watch the Bathurst 12 hour instead of Supertaxis.

        1. I watch both, and a lot of other car racing series besides.

          Funny you mention the Holden Vs Ford thing, as I believe it was the equal worst thing they ever did – along with dropping the production bases for the cars and replacing them with a generic jig-chassis with silhouette bodywork and homologated engines.
          ATCC/V8’s evolution is surprisingly similar to F1’s….

  3. Schumacher’s crash wasn’t that much (apart from -insert Steiner expletive- stupid), front corners gone but I’d say maybe back in time for P2. Medical car must have been to see if he was dizzy.

  4. That right there is an argument in favour of sprint race weekends. Less ‘boring’ and ‘meaningless’ sessions before qualifying and after it

    1. Exactly ;)
      FP2 was 90 minutes, and still pretty monotonous.

      Would have been so much more interesting if they’d had qualifying and/or a sprint race there.
      A waste of great, challenging conditions.

  5. What a headline – could be from another era 15-20 years ago!

  6. Around half an hour into the session, championship leader Max Verstappen left the garage for the first time on the intermediate tyres. Any question of which of the two wet tyres were the better suited for the slippery conditions was answered when the Red Bull driver immediately went fastest by over three seconds.

    He is always very fast straight out of the box this year. The guy is unbelievable confident and comfortable with his car. The Red Bull must be easier to drive than a few years back when it was very spikey.

  7. That’s gotta be the final nail in the coffin of Mick’s lingering hopes of remaining at Hass next season

    1. @eurobrun


      This accidental typo reminds me how the name of the team should be pronounced. Because of the double ‘a’ I keep on pronouncing Haas with a longer ‘a’.

    2. @eurobrun I doubt this, but too early to judge anyway.

  8. Interesting to see they lap in 1.42 in intermediate conditions, compared to 1994 when in race conditions they lapped in 2 minutes! However there were definitely full wet conditions then and obviously the cars got a lot faster over the years, even in wet conditions.

Comments are closed.