Written by Abhishek Takle

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) – Alpine’s Fernando Alonso set the fastest time in wet opening practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday.

The Spaniard lapped the wet Suzuka circuit in one minute, beating compatriot Carlos Sainz in his Ferrari by 42.248 seconds.

Charles Leclerc followed his Ferrari teammate in third.

Championship leader Max Verstappen, who was able to claim a second straight title on Sunday, was just sixth behind Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.

Dutchman Verstappen, who leads Leclerc by 104 points, completed just four laps around the circuit where he made his F1 debut days after his 17th birthday in 2014.

Mick Schumacher was seventh fastest for Haas. The German crashed at the end of the session on Dunlop’s left-hand climb, ending the practice start on the grid.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was eighth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the Alfa Romeo. Mexico’s Sergio Perez, Red Bull’s winner last week in Singapore, was 10th fastest.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton completed six laps and finished 13th.

Home hope Yuki Tsunoda finished 19th in the AlphaTauri, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who held up the timesheet.

Schumacher’s crash, which damaged the front suspension of his Haas, was the only major incident of the session. Some pilots left the track on a slippery road, but escaped unscathed.

(Reporting by Abhishek Takle; Editing by Peter Rutherford)


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