DC: 'Schumacher looks strong'

David Coulthard admitted McLaren have fallen behind Ferrari in the first day's practice for the crucial Japanese Grand Prix that could decide this year's world championship

DC: 'Schumacher looks strong'

Michael Schumacher topped the first day's practice by six-tenths of a second and was fastest in both sessions, with Mika Hakkinen second and Coulthard fourth. Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari finished the session in third, between the two McLarens.

"Michael is looking incredibly strong," admitted the Scot after Friday practice, which is not usually a reflection of the teams' competitiveness.

"Today's times do mean something. It is significant that Ferrari is quickest so we've got a bit of work to do for tomorrow.

"It is not a psychological blow for Michael to be quickest. Ferrari has been looking strong over the last few races so it is not a big surprise to see them fast today. But it is in qualifying where you take the punishment if they are quicker."

Coulthard predicted a real battle for pole position, which Schumacher has collared for the last two years only to see Hakkinen win both races.

"It is going to be incredibly close. Michael is looking incredibly strong, but a blind person could say that at the moment," he said.

"The best support I can give to Mika is to be faster than Ferrari. He clearly knows how to win a championship because he has done it twice before. But this weekend he needs help from his friends and the team as well."

For the times from the end of Friday's free practice for the Japanese GP, click HERE.

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