Once again it was Jarno Trulli who lead the field at Suzuka, the Renault driver taking Friday provisional pole with a 1:30.281, just six thousandths ahead of the Williams of Ralf Schumacher. Big brother Michael finished third quickest and title...
Once again it was Jarno Trulli who lead the field at Suzuka, the Renault driver taking Friday provisional pole with a 1:30.281, just six thousandths ahead of the Williams of Ralf Schumacher. Big brother Michael finished third quickest and title rival Kimi Raikkonen fifth.
As per usual the running order was dictated by championship standings for Friday qualifying, so Michael Schumacher was first to take to the track. Second in the earlier practice, Schumacher posted a 1:30.464, just a few tenths off Trulli's fastest of this morning. Raikkonen was next to the track but couldn't beat Michael: nine hundredths off for the Finn.
Juan Pablo Montoya could only manage third on his lap, seven-tenths off the pace for the Williams driver after he locked up in the hairpin. Teammate Ralf put in a stormer of a lap, 1:30.343, for provisional pole. Rubens Barrichello set fourth on his flyer, demoting Montoya to fifth.
Fernando Alonso started the second group, up fractionally in sector one, losing a little in two and it fell apart in sector three. The Spaniard posted a reasonable fourth but could have done better. David Coulthard followed on, nearly matching Ralf's first sector time but losing a couple of tenths through sector two. He posted third, 0.139 off Ralf.
Practice pace setter Jarno Trulli jumped straight to the top with a 1:30.281, another cracking lap for the Italian, six-tenths ahead of Ralf. Jaguar's Mark Webber was down in sector one and lost more through the remainder of the lap to post ninth fastest. Last of the second group, Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen was half a second off in sector one and continued the downward trend to complete his flyer tenth.
Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella kicked off the third group, eleventh for the Italian, who was followed by the BAR of Jenson Button. The Englishman managed to beat Fisichella despite an engine blow out in practice that curtailed his running. But both were over two seconds off provisional pole. Toyota's Cristiano da Matta managed 11th on his flyer and Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen tenth. Teammate Nick Heidfeld sneaked tenth from Frentzen by just about a tenth of a second. Olivier Panis just beat teammate da Matta, 12th for the Frenchman after da Matta was demoted by the Saubers.
Jordan's Ralph Firman started the final group, a driver familiar with the Suzuka circuit from his time in Formula Nippon. Slightly faster than teammate Fisichella in sector one, Firman carried it through to take fifteenth from the Italian. Justin Wilson was the second of the Jaguars and managed fourteenth, which left the Minardis and BAR's Takuma Sato to prove heir worth.
Jos Verstappen was out first for Minardi and he was four and a half seconds off provisional pole. Teammate Nicolas Kiesa posted 19th, over a second off Verstappen. Final man of the day was BAR's Takuma Sato, debuting for the team in place of Jacques Villeneuve. Up on teammate Button in the first sector, the Japanese put in a fine effort to qualify eleventh in front of his home crowd. Final top eight classification: Trulli, R. Schumacher, M. Schumacher, Coulthard, Raikkonen, Alonso, Barrichello, Montoya.