Japanese GP, Free Practice Session: McLaren sets the pace 

Written by David on September 28th, 2007 at 9:26 amLast Update: February 16th, 2008 at 2:12 pm

Lewis Hamilton Fastest on Fuji Free Practice SessionFerrari set the pace in the 1st Free Practice Session, but the Silver Arrows got back again and dominated the 2nd session: Lewis Hamilton preceded his teammate Alonso, Felipe Massa 3rd and Kimi Raikkonen 5th almost a second slower. The Championship leader lapped the 4.563km Fuji Speedway circuit in 1’18”734 early on in the 90 minute session, using a set of the soft Bridgestone Potenza tyres. Alonso, his fastest run on the medium compound tyres, was just over two tenths adrift.

Ferrari was unable to show the pace they had demonstrated in the morning session. Felipe Massa set the third fastest time while Raikkonen, fastest in the morning, was almost a second adrift of Hamilton and just fifth fastest.

Toyota needs a boost this weekend after a dismal season. At their home event, the team will be encouraged to see Jarno Trulli 4th fastest this afternoon with teammate Ralf Schumacher 9th.

The Renault duo of Heikki Kovalainen and Giancarlo Fisichella were sixth and seventh fastest ahead of David Coulthard who put in a late fast lap to vault from 19th to eighth. Mark Webber was 11th in the sister Red Bull Renault.

BMW Sauber has yet to show much pace in Japan, but this afternoon Robert Kubica managed tenth with Nick Heidfeld back in 15th but this is unlikely to be representative of the team’s pace over the rest of the weekend.

Alex Wurz and Nico Rosberg were 12th and 13th for the Williams Toyota team. Rosberg’s weekend has already taken a turn for the worst however following the news that his Belgian Grand Prix engine, due to be raced here in Japan, has suffered a major problem. He will start Saturday practice with a fresh Toyota V8 and will therefore drop ten positions due to his engine change penalty after qualifying.

Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello set the 14th and 17th best times, the latter moving from the bottom of the timesheets on his very final lap of the session. Adrian Sutil ran well again in the B-Spec Spyker Ferrari and was 16th best ahead of Barrichello and the Toro Rosso duo of Tonio Liuzzi and Sebastian Vettel.

Anthony Davidson was 20th in the leading Super Aguri Honda, wile it was not a good day for the Japanese drivers with Sakon Yamamoto and Takuma Sato bringing up the bottom of the timesheets.

After three hours of running we have learned little. The teams will certainly now have plenty of tyre data and track information, but so far all we really know is that McLaren and Ferrari are the ones to beat… and we knew that already.

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