The Japanese Grand Prix weekend got under way in Friday's first practice session at the Fuji Speedway and Ferrari scored a one-two at the top of the time sheet as Formula One returned to the circuit for the first time in 30 years. Kimi Raikkonen's...
The Japanese Grand Prix weekend got under way in Friday's first practice session at the Fuji Speedway and Ferrari scored a one-two at the top of the time sheet as Formula One returned to the circuit for the first time in 30 years. Kimi Raikkonen's best of 1:19.119 was just under four tenths quicker than teammate Felipe Massa and the pair completed over 50 laps between them as they acclimatized to the track.
Unsurprisingly McLaren was not far behind; Fernando Alonso was third quickest, half a second down on Raikkonen, and Lewis Hamilton was fourth and a further tenth off. The Williams of Nico Rosberg was best of the rest in this opening session, fifth and the last to be within a second of the lead Ferrari. Teammate Alex Wurz also had a good morning and was seventh, about four tenths behind Rosberg.
Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber was in between the Williams pair in sixth but Nick Heidfeld was a little further down than we've come to expect from BMW in 13th. Jarno Trulli made Toyota's presence felt in the top 10 with eighth and Ralf Schumacher, who is one of the few drivers who has raced at Fuji previously, was 15th. However, despite the gap between them on the list the time difference was three and a half tenths.
Spyker's Adrian Sutil competed in Japanese F3 last year and his experience at the track seemed to count as he clocked the ninth best time, only a few hundredths behind Trulli. Teammate Sakon Yamamoto didn't have much chance to put his Fuji knowledge to good use as he stopped on track after 17 laps and was at the bottom of the time sheet. A couple of other drivers also suffered technical/mechanical problems.
Anthony Davidson appeared to have a trouble-free morning and was a good 10th for Super Aguri but Takuma Sato spent most of the first hour of the session having his car worked on in the garage. Eventually he managed 15 laps and was 17th on the time sheet. His time, and that of those behind him on the list, was over two seconds off the pace, while Davidson was half a second quicker.
Honda also had a split result with Rubens Barrichello a reasonable 11th and Jenson Button 19th, while Heikki Kovalainen was the lead Renault in 12th. The rookie Finn had spent much of the session running in the top six but lost ground towards the end when others made late improvements. Giancarlo Fisichella was 16th but not that far away from his teammate in regards to time, just over a tenth.
Tonio Liuzzi headed Toro Rosso's charge in 14th, not a bad result at all, although Sebastian Vettel had car problems and was 20th, a second behind his teammate. It wasn't the best of starts for Red Bull: Mark Webber could only manage 18th and David Coulthard was 21st. Final top eight classification: Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Kubica, Wurz, Trulli.