Max Verstappen tops the opening timesheet in FP1 for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
As rain fell over the Sepang International Circuit and the opening session was initially indefinitely postponed, Max Verstappen rose to the top. Edging his Red Bull team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, by seven-tenths of a second in drying conditions that retained enough moisture for intermediate tyres to be needed throughout.
After the rain that befell the circuit called for a delayed start, first practice eventually went green 30-minutes into the opening session of the weekend.
The first time of the morning then came courtesy of Daniel Ricciardo two-thirds of the way through the 90-minutes. A slow 1 minute 55, lapping 20 seconds down on the best opening time of a year ago.
The fastest lap soon fell, however, with both Red Bull drivers lowering the benchmark into the 1 minute 40s. Holding the edge over the Mercedes duo, despite traffic interrupting Ricciardo’s then best effort that left the Australian just seven-thousandths down to Verstappen after setting the then fastest opening and middle sectors.
Though, while Ricciardo moved to within the narrow margin to his younger team-mate before going 1.4-seconds faster, the wet-track-star, Verstappen, jumped back ahead by eight-tenths. Topping the leaderboard come the chequered flag, 2.5-seconds up on Mercedes’ best with Hamilton in sixth – behind Fernando Alonso’s McLaren and both Ferrari’s.
Prior to Ricciardo’s initial time an hour into the opening practice session, intermediate tyres were first fitted onto Esteban Ocon’s Force India after 20 minutes of the session going green and the track drying from the severe wet start.
Sergio Perez, too, came out earlier than most on the intermediate rubber. But the Mexican found himself soon running off track as he adjusted to the tricky conditions.
Sergey Sirotkin also found himself an early casualty on the intermediate tyres 10 minutes later, as the Russian stepped in for the session in place of Nico Hulkenberg.
Meanwhile, both Ferrari-backed rising stars, Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc, stepped in for the morning at Haas and Sauber in place of Magnussen and Ericsson respectively.
While at Toro Rosso neither race driver from the previous 14 rounds took part in the session. With Sean Gelaeal replacing Carlos Sainz for FP1 and Pierre Gasly participating in his first official Formula One session as a race driver, having been drafted in to replace Daniil Kvyat for the upcoming rounds of the Formula One World Championship.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1’48.962||11|
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1’49.719||0.757||12|
|9||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1’52.380||3.418||14|
|13||Esteban Ocon||Force India||1’53.896||4.934||6|
|14||Sean Gelael||Toro Rosso||1’54.610||5.648||13|
|15||Sergio Perez||Force India||1’54.669||5.707||4|
|20||Felipe Massa||Williams||No time set||3|