First practice: Schuey quickest

New world champion Michael Schumacher showed he has lost nothing of his thirst for dominance as he and Rubens Barrichello topped the times at the end of the first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix

First practice: Schuey quickest

The German has said he wants to end the season by taking the victory that will secure the constructors' championship for Ferrari in style - to go with the driver's title he wrapped up in Japan.

He proved he has every intention of doing just that as he headed the timesheet with a lap that left all but Barrichello and the McLaren's of David Coulthard, third, and Mika Hakkinen, fourth, trailing over two seconds in his wake.

In the punishing 31 degree heat and the 60 per cent humidity under a blazing sun and clear skies, the rest of the grid did not seem to have the energy for the battle this early in the weekend.

In a flurry of fast times in the final five minutes, the new champion was seven-tenths faster than Barrichello, while Coulthard promoted himself to third with seconds of the session remaining. He finished the session over 1.3 seconds down on Schumacher.

With the drivers' title decided, the focus has turned to the constructors' championship. The McLaren duo have to both finish in the top three, with one of them winning, and Ferrari out of the top four to snatch the constructors' title back from their red rivals, who have a 13-point lead.

Eddie Irvine was fifth, Jacques Villeneuve sixth, Giancarlo Fisichella seventh, Johnny Herbert eighth, outgoing BAR driver Ricardo Zonta ninth and Alexander Wurz, due to be confirmed this afternoon as McLaren's test driver, 10th.

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Hakkinen has the edge after day one in Malaysia

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