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Carlos Sainz has topped first free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix in a session blighted by rainy conditions and relatively minimal track running.

With persistent rain presenting damp conditions for the first track session of the weekend, drivers took the opportunity to get some worthwhile wet running, but only a handful would go ahead to set a lap time.

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Of those, Sainz would claim the quickest time for Toro Rosso on new intermediate tyres, heading up stablemate Daniil Kvyat on a used set of intermediate tyres.

Nico Rosberg turned in the fastest lap on wet weather tyres over the course of 14 laps, ahead of Singapore Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in fourth and fifth.

With a six second differential between fastest and slowest, only 12 drivers would go ahead to set a time, with no complete lap from either Force India, Lotus or Manor, nor Daniel Ricciardo and Fernando Alonso.

Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Nasr, Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Massa and Max Verstappen all found the limit of the tricky conditions with off-track excursions over the 90mins, though there were session stoppages.