Lewis Hamilton crashes in Japan practice, Rosberg top

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton crashes in final practice

Lewis Hamilton crashed in final practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg set the pace.

Hamilton lost control at the 150mph Turn One as he started the lap intended to test the car in qualifying trim.

The accident broke the front left suspension but Hamilton was unhurt.

Rosberg, who ended the session without problems, ended up fastest by 0.982 seconds from his Mercedes team-mate, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso third.

The start of the day was dominated by events off-track, after Red Bull announced that Sebastian Vettel was leaving the team.

Lewis Hamilton crashes
Hamilton came to grief at Turn One on his qualifying simulation lap
Lewis Hamilton's car is towed away
The Mercedes driver crashed during qualifying for the German Grand Prix earlier in the season

The German, who was 15th fastest after suffering engine problems, is to go to Ferrari, following Alonso's decision to leave the Italian team.

Alonso's impending move to McLaren is expected to be announced in the coming days.

Behind the Spaniard, Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were fourth and fifth, ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and the McLaren of Kevin Magnussen.

Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat were eighth and ninth ahead of Jenson Button's McLaren, Nico Hulkenberg's Force India and the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who had engine problems.

Qualifying is expected to be dry, but heavy rain is forecast for the race on Sunday as typhoon Phanfone moves towards Japan.

Japanese Grand Prix coverage details

Japanese Grand Prix first practice results