Verstappen was dominant through the 60-minute session at Suzuka, enjoying a 1.3s lead over the rest of the field in the early stages.

The reigning world champion was in a league of his own in first practice, particularly in the opening sector of the lap.

Verstappen’s nearest challenger was Carlos Sainz, who continues to be the lead Ferrari, six-tenths off the pace.

Lando Norris left it late to slot into third, with McLaren expected to go well given their impressive performance in high-speed corners.

Charles Leclerc was fourth, a couple of tenths shy of his teammate, while Yuki Tsunoda was a surprise fifth for AlphaTauri.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso set the sixth-fastest time, just over one-second off Verstappen.

Next up was Oscar Piastri in seventh ahead of Alex Albon and Liam Lawson.

Lance Stroll made it two Aston Martins in the top 10 in FP1.

Sergio Perez was astonishingly over 1.3s off his teammate’s pace.