Raikkonen tops first practice - Japan
|By Matt Beer||Friday, September 28th 2007, 02:31 GMT|
Ferrari led the way as the Formula One field got to grips with the new Fuji circuit in the first free practice session for the Japanese Grand Prix.
After trailing teammate Felipe Massa for most of the morning, Kimi Raikkonen grabbed the fastest time with a 1:19.333 lap in the closing minutes of the session, and then improved to 1:19.119 with his last lap.
The McLarens had to settle for third and fourth, and also swapped places on the final laps.
Lewis Hamilton had held the upper hand over Fernando Alonso during their first runs, but in the end it was the reigning world champion who secured third place - half a second off Raikkonen's pace and 0.140 seconds ahead of his teammate.
Williams showed strong form with Nico Rosberg in fifth and Alex Wurz seventh, the pair split by BMW's Robert Kubica.
Jarno Trulli took eighth for track owners Toyota, but his teammate Ralf Schumacher was only 15th, and had a spin at Turn 6 with half an hour remaining.
Spyker's Adrian Sutil was one of the few drivers to try soft tyres during the session, and leapt to a remarkable fifth place with ten minutes to go.
Even as others improved, the German rookie was still able to hang on to ninth position, ahead of Anthony Davidson and Rubens Barrichello, the latter also using softs in the final moments.
Heikki Kovalainen had held fifth for most of the session, but did not make a sufficient improvement on his last run and was shuffled back to 12th. Nick Heidfeld ended up 13th, but had also shown better form earlier on.
Several drivers had their mornings interrupted by mechanical problems.
Both Sakon Yamamoto and Sebastian Vettel stopped on track, although the Toro Rosso was returned to the pits in time to rejoin before the end of the session, while local favourite Takuma Sato spent the first hour in the Super Aguri garage with the mechanics attending to the rear of his car.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:19.119 26 2. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:19.498 + 0.379 27 3. Alonso McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:19.667 + 0.548 27 4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:19.807 + 0.688 24 5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:20.058 + 0.939 26 6. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:20.297 + 1.178 26 7. Wurz Williams-Toyota (B) 1:20.411 + 1.292 24 8. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:20.483 + 1.364 32 9. Sutil Spyker-Ferrari (B) 1:20.516 + 1.397 29 10. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.601 + 1.482 22 11. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:20.686 + 1.567 24 12. Kovalainen Renault (B) 1:20.718 + 1.599 27 13. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:20.728 + 1.609 26 14. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:20.808 + 1.689 29 15. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:20.828 + 1.709 28 16. Fisichella Renault (B) 1:20.851 + 1.732 23 17. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.186 + 2.067 15 18. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:21.437 + 2.318 18 19. Button Honda (B) 1:21.541 + 2.422 22 20. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:21.854 + 2.735 18 21. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:22.436 + 3.317 18 22. Yamamoto Spyker-Ferrari (B) 1:22.902 + 3.783 17 All timing unofficial