The first free practice after the summer break didn’t spring too many surprises with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel topping the timings.
The four-time world champion was closely followed by fellow Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc as the Scuderia showed their dominance on this power dominated circuit.
The tale of two drivers
FP1 was the first chance that Alex Albon got to test out his new piece of kit and he didn’t exactly do a bad job, placing the car fourth, ahead of both of the Mercedes.
In contrasting fortunes the man he replaced, Pierre Gasly, looked to struggle being back in the Toro Rosso, only managing a best of 18th, just over two seconds away from Albon and his former car.
Busy Summer Break
The end of the summer break has given the teams a chance to develop the cars somewhat. Honda, Renault and Mercedes have all bought a new spec engine in some respect.
Honda have brought in version four of their power unit for Red Bull and there is speculation from the commentary team that there could even be a fifth iteration by Suzuka.
Renault have bought a new engine and have made their Spec C engine available for McLaren this weekend. Mercedes have also bought a new engine unit too.
However, the new Mercedes power unit seems to have caused some issues for Lewis Hamilton who had a less than favourable time during FP1, having lost power on his out-lap and he was forced to crawl back to the pits in first gear.
Upon coming back out he struggled for the rest of practice, complaining about tyres, finishing the session in an underwhelming sixth position.
Grid Penalties Galore
Come Sunday there will be a handful of drivers who have taken the burden of a grid penalty.
Albon, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, Daniil Kyvat and Lance Stroll have all had new parts fitted to their cars for the weekend, meaning that they will start the race near the back of the grid.
With many competitive cars condemned to the back of the grid it could potentially see a very interesting start to the race come Sunday, with Albon being one of the drivers that all eyes would have been on initially.
Rumours of an injuries were around the paddock after the summer break. Marcus Ericsson was recalled from his IndyCar duties in the possibility that Kimi Raikkonen’s leg injury hadn’t subsided.
Lando Norris was reported to have some issues with tendons in his foot during the break but seems to have gotten over the issues.
Both drivers took part in the session and look set to be able to continue for the rest of the weekend.
Free Practice One Standings:
- Sebastian Vettel – 1.44.5
- Charles Leclerc +0.214s
- Max Verstappen +0.933
- Alexander Albon +1.010
- Valtteri Bottas +1.308
- Lewis Hamilton +1.399
- Lance Stroll +1.624
- Daniel Ricciardo +1.852
- Sergio Perez +1.859
- Carlos Sainz +1.983
- Nico Hulkenberg +2.095
- Lando Norris +2.096
- Kimi Raikkonen +2.450
- Romain Grosjean +2.602
- Antonio Giovinazzi +2.759
- Kevin Magnussen +2.914
- Daniil Kvyat +3.062
- Pierre Gasly +3.394
- Nicholas Latifi +4.210
- Robert Kubica +4.392