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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Alonso’s Magic in Soaking Wet Practice Session in the Japanese Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso showed his vintage mastery in the wet conditions as he topped the timing sheets

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

JAPAN: Fernando Alonso tops the timing sheets in the rain-affected First Practice session of the Japanese Grand Prix, putting his A522 ahead of the Ferrari duo.

As F1 returns to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix for the first time since 2019, heavy rain welcomed the drivers ahead of the one-hour practice session. The session saw minimal activity in the first minutes as local lad Yuki Tsunoda and Kevin Magnussen was the first to venture into the wet conditions on the Pirelli’s wet tyres. They were soon joined by the rest of the field as they tried to gather some early wet tyre mileage and get in tune with the Suzuka track.

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It didn’t take long for Charles Leclerc to report that the track was ready for the intermediates, and around 30 minutes into the session, drivers switched to the green circled Pirelli inters. Another intense downpour arrived soon and soaked the track once again, culminating in a session with mixed conditions and limited running for the teams.

Fernando Alonso showed his vintage mastery in the wet conditions and Alonso topped the timing sheets with a 1m 42.248s, three tenths ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, with Leclerc, who survived a brief venture in the gravels late in the session further behind by a tenth. Esteban Ocon showed great composure as he finished P4, as Alpine looks to bounce back after a weekend to forget in Singapore last week.

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Magnussen ended up 5th fastest for Haas, closely followed by Max Verstappen, who straightaway went to intermediates as he set off on a weekend which could see him claim the driver’s championship. Mick Schumacher, who lost control and crashed at turn 7 after the chequered flag, took 7th after he complained of getting blocked by Alonso in the final sector.

McLaren’s Lando Norris reported engine issues as he claimed 8th place, while the winner from the previous race, Redbull’s Sergio Perez, finished 10th, sandwiched between the Alfa Romeo pair of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu.

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Daniel Ricciardo, who would like to continue his form from the previous race, had a relatively quiet session as he slotted in 12th after a trip off the track. Lewis Hamilton led a quiet session for Mercedes as he set a lap time which was good enough for 13th; his teammate George Russell, who endured a torrid Singapore GP, was down in 18th.

Lance Stroll took 14th for the Aston Martin, while his teammate Sebastian Vettel, who will be racing in Suzuka for the last time as he bids adieu to the sport at the end of 2022, finished at the bottom of the timing sheets.

Pierre Gasly was 16th in the middle of a Williams sandwich of Alex Albon in 15th, and Nicholas Latifi, who locked up early in the session and made a brief trip in the gravel, finished 17th, while Yuki Tsunoda started his home Grand Prix in 19th.

Also Read: Max Verstappen Wins the Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2022

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