After a long wait – but not as long as last spring – the MotoGP circus was flying in full formation in Qatar once again, the premier class joining the action alongside the juniors after two years away from the Losail track. The grid was not quite in full configuration yet, with only one Marquez in attendance as the other rests for another couple of races but rivals fought to keep the spotlight firmly on them as the season gets going. Despite windy, sweaty and slippery conditions, Franco Morbidelli achieved that and led the way throughout FP1. The only rider to challenge his lead was Aleix Espargaro, the Aprilia man surprising with a late jump to the top of the timesheets before getting demoted to second, one tenth of a second off top spot.
Turn 4 seemed cursed for Ducati early on with crashes for both Johann Zarco and Jack Miller, but the Australian quickly rejoined and made it into the top three, ahead of Fabio Quartararo. Reigning world champion Joan Mir steadily climbed up the timesheets to join the top five at the checkered flag, three tenths off the leader. Maverick Vinales and Alex Rins kept close to their teammates, while Pecco Bagnaia and Valentino Rossi were the last riders to post a time within half a second of Morbidelli.
Albeit eighth tenths off top spot, Miguel Oliveira completed the top ten ahead of the LCR duo of Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami, while their factory colleague Pol Espargaro had to make do with 15th after a crash at turn 6 halfway through proceedings.