The Friday practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix were something of a washout but Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was the fastest man of the incredibly wet day. His time in the afternoon session of 1:45.388 was a couple of seconds quicker than...
The Friday practice sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix were something of a washout but Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was the fastest man of the incredibly wet day. His time in the afternoon session of 1:45.388 was a couple of seconds quicker than his previous best in the morning. Once again Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella was second fastest and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen was third.
There was no improvement in the conditions for the second practice, the rain still pouring down, but a few drivers were soon out on track. Jaguar's Mark Webber and Christian Klien, neither of whom set a time in the morning, were first to take to the time sheet. Webber's best was 1:51.719 and Klien was demoted from second by BAR third driver Anthony Davidson.
Davidson then improved to fastest, 1:50.478, half a second up on Webber. Jordan third driver Robert Doornbos took second from the Jaguar and Jacques Villeneuve put his Renault fourth. Davidson upped the stakes again to 1:49.958 and Timo Glock was next up, the Jordan racer taking second, just one hundredth down.
Villeneuve moved up to third and Toyota's Jarno Trulli made seventh on his first effort. Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner joined in eighth and Glock took over at the top, 1:49.277. Gianmaria Bruni and Minardi No.3 Bas Leinders, and Renault's Fernando Alonso made it 11 on the time sheet. Leinders improved to seventh and Alonso to fourth after their initial forays.
Takuma Sato set his first timed lap of the day, the local hero slotting his BAR into sixth. McLaren's David Coulthard also posted his first time, seventh quickest, and Michael Schumacher took over the top with a 1:45.388, nearly four seconds up on Glock. Sato moved back up to sixth after being bumped down by the Ferrari but Nick Heidfeld's Jordan took the place off him.
Heidfeld improved to third behind teammate Glock but the pair were then demoted by Coulthard taking second. Sato moved up to fifth and Barrichello clocked ninth on his first flyer, Trulli and Webber posting 10th and 11th behind the Ferrari. Raikkonen was next to edge closer to Schumacher's time for second but was immediately eclipsed by Barrichello.
Raikkonen retaliated to regain the position but was still over a second down on Schumacher. Alonso and Michael both had a brief trip into the gravel but no damage was done. Fisichella was next to take the second spot, the Sauber closing the gap to Michel to seven tenths. Ralf Schumacher was the first Williams out, 12th, with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya one behind in 12th.
Massa, Glock and Bruni all had a spin at turn six, while Baumgartner came to a halt in the first sector and the yellow flags came out to curtailed track activity. No that it made much difference -- nearly everyone took shelter in the pits as the rain got even heavier.
Olivier Panis, competing for Toyota in his last Grand Prix, ventured out for the first time today in the final minutes but did not complete a timed lap. The session came to a close with four drivers not setting a time; Panis, Massa, Jaguar third driver Bj?rn Wirdheim and Toyota No.3 Ryan Briscoe.
In such heavy rain it is, obviously, impossible to draw any real conclusions from the day's activities. The Bridgestone shod teams seemed to fare reasonably well in the wet -- or at least the Jordans did better than usual, with Glock and Heidfeld, the two Ferraris and Fisichella making five Bridegstone runners in the top seven.
The weather is predicted to be just as bad for tomorrow and there is talk that grid positions for the race may be decided by the finishing order from Shanghai, if the conditions are too bad for qualifying to take place. We will have to wait and see. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Fisichella, Raikkonen, Barrichello, Coulthard, Glock, Heidfeld, Sato.