Verstappen fastest in the wet first practice at Sepang

Verstappen fastest in the wet first practice at Sepang

Heavy rain led to an indefinite delay to proceedingsbut, amid a break in the weather, the session went green 30 minutes later

Verstappen, Sepang

Max Verstappen led Daniel Ricciardo in Friday morning’s delayed, wet first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit. Heavy rain in the build up to FP1 led to an “indefinite” delay to proceedings. Amid a break in the weather, the session went green at 11:30 local time, half an hour later than planned. Race control waited for the pools of water to clear from the track.

Verstappen and Ricciardo quickly got into a rhythm in the tricky conditions and on the switch from Wets to Intermediates.

Verstappen topped the timesheets at Sepang, clocking a 1:48.962, some eight-tenths faster than Ricciardo, who finished a similar margin clear of Alonso.

Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel made late improvements to take fourth and fifth. The latter escaping from a trip through the grass and gravel at Turn 9. Mercedes made a low-key start to the weekend. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were sixth and seventh, ahead of Williams rookie Lance Stroll.

Pierre Gasly, appearing as a Formula 1 race driver for the first time, made a confident start in ninth, his engineer praising his progress over the radio.

Renault test driver Sergey Sirotkin slotted ahead of regular Jolyon Palmer on the fringes of the top 10. He was followed by the other McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne.

Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez were 13th and 15th, sandwiching Toro Rosso tester Sean Gelael. Charles Leclerc made his first FP1 run with Sauber, after several outings with Haas last season. He finished almost four-tenths ahead of Pascal Wehrlein.

Haas brought up the rear, with Romain Grosjean and Friday runner Antonio Giovinazzi closely matched. Felipe Massa failed to post a time amid a hydraulics issue.