The recent familiar pattern of Ferrari and McLaren sharing the best times of the Friday sessions continued at Fuji as, after the Scuderia was quickest in the morning, McLaren came back to top the times in the afternoon. In the second practice for...
The recent familiar pattern of Ferrari and McLaren sharing the best times of the Friday sessions continued at Fuji as, after the Scuderia was quickest in the morning, McLaren came back to top the times in the afternoon. In the second practice for the Japanese Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton led with a best of 1:18.734 and Fernando Alonso was two tenths off. Both were faster than Kimi Raikkonen's best in the morning.
"The grip levels increased throughout, but the challenge is when you don't have a real idea of when the levels will stabilise," said Hamilton. "I experienced no problems and we found a good basis and made continuous progress. In the second session we focused on some longer runs and everything seems to be going in the right direction."
Alonso, who is under seige from the media at the moment, was concentrating on the job in hand. "In the first session I mainly focused on familiarisation and stayed on the same set of tyres throughout," he commented. "The second session was when the work really began with tyre comparisons and set-up work. So far so good and we experienced no problems."
This time around it was Felipe Massa who was the quicker of the Ferrari pair in third, half a second behind Hamilton. Raikkonen finished fifth overall, two and a half tenths off his teammate and the Toyota of Jarno Trulli was in between them for fourth. The second Toyota of Ralf also made the top 10, ninth and just under three tenths off Trulli.
"On this interesting track, it is not easy to find the right balance between the slower section and long main straight," said Massa. "This morning we were quick and the afternoon, our work was aimed more at the race. We improved the set-up during the day but there is still much to do. However, the first impressions are positive and I think we can be competitive."
Raikkonen was the last man to be within a second of Hamilton's time; Heikki Kovalainen in sixth was just half a tenth over it and Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella was marginally behind in seventh. After a slow morning Red Bull's David Coulthard bounced back to clock the eighth fastest time while Mark Webber was also much improved but just missed the front half of the pack in 11th.
BMW Sauber was low key compared to its usual Friday efforts. Robert Kubica was, as in the morning, the quicker of the two, 10th, and Nick Heidfeld was a comparatively lowly 15th. Alex Wurz was the lead Williams in 12th and Nico Rosberg was one behind but Rosberg is already facing the 10 place grid demotion penalty as his engine had to be changed after the morning practice.
Jenson Button was the lead Honda in 14th and Rubens Barrichello was half a second down on his teammate in 17th. Spyker's Adrian Sutil couldn't manage to repeat his notable top 10 finish position from the morning but 16th was a reasonable effort, two seconds off the lead. Sakon Yamamoto made a slight improvement from his morning result to 21st.
Tonio Liuzzi was again the quicker Toro Rosso, 18th for the Italian, while Sebastian Vettel was one behind in 19th, just half a tenth down on Liuzzi. Super Aguri didn't fare so well this afternoon, with Anthony Davidson, who had made the top 10 in the morning, 20th and Takuma Sato at the back in 22nd. However, their pace was not hugely different from the first session.
There were no particular troubles in this session, with a good amount of laps being put in by each driver. Raikkonen was the lowest with 29 and Kubica the highest with 45. Everyone seems to have adapted to the new circuit pretty well so we'll just have to wait and see what Saturday brings. Final top eight classification: Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Trulli, Raikkonen, Kovalainen, Fisichella, Coulthard.