Alex Albon was fastest in a wet first practice session ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver set his fastest time on slick tyres to put himself half a second ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel.
Rain overnight meant the drivers where reluctant to get out early, the British Thai driver set his fastest time in the closing moments of the session. He then made a late switch to slicks before crashing into the wall as he started his flying lap.
Albon lost control at Juncao and broke the front suspension and wing. His teammate Max Verstappen also spun at the same time through the Senna S but was able to recover the car. While behind the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat also spun, this time at Turn One, as he also tried the untreated dry-weather tyres.
Vettel was the first to head out on the full wet tyres but chose not to set a time. The Ferrari driver would end the session third behind Mercedes Valtteri Bottas with his teammate Charles Leclerc Fourth fastest. While six times champion Lewis Hamilton and Verstappen did three laps and didn’t set a time.
McLaren once again set the pace in the midfield, Carlos Sainz doing a 17.8. Before the track dried the Spaniard was fastest and was then beaten by Leclerc, as the session remained competitive even as conditions improved and others switched to intermediates.
Vettel displaced his Ferrari teammate with a 17.0 before Bottas broke into the 16’s, a 16.6. With 20 minutes remaining, Hamilton and both Red Bull drivers were among those still to set a lap time. Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo proved Renault had pace, going sixth and seventh a tenth off Sainz.
Williams’s George Russell had one of the teams best sessions of the season, going eleventh fastest. The Englishman was four-tenths faster than the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, Lance Stroll. While Kimi Raikkonen, who should become the sports second-most experienced driver as he equals Fernando Alonso, was fourteenth.
The Finn was over half a second faster than Nicolas Latfiti, in the Williams of Robert Kubica.
Albon’s crash stopped Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Verstappen and Hamilton from setting a time. Conditions for FP2 are expected to be dry, which could allow for more running.