Saturday Second Free Practice - Japanese GP

Warm sunshine, blue skies, a demonstration of blazing bravery from Takuma Sato and a resumption of normal service by Michael Schumacher ensured another decent-sized crowd at Suzuka had value for money on Saturday morning in final free practice for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix. Red, definitely, was the colour again after a grey-and-silver Friday.

Saturday Second Free Practice - Japanese GP

Warm sunshine, blue skies, a demonstration of blazing bravery from Takuma Sato and a resumption of normal service by Michael Schumacher ensured another decent-sized crowd at Suzuka had value for money on Saturday morning in final free practice for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix. Red, definitely, was the colour again after a grey-and-silver Friday.

Schumacher, the quintuple World Champion, in his Ferrari, clocked the morning's best time of 1:32.978 to outstrip his younger brother Ralf by two-tenths as the competition at the front of the field signalled an entertaining qualifying session is in prospect for the afternoon. If Ralf, in his Williams-BMW, can maintain his challenge, the two siblings could deliver an all-German front row for the final race of the year.

In good conditions with a light breeze to cool the crowds basking in temperatures rising into the mid-20's Celsius, Kimi Raikkonen maintained his rise through the ranks by claiming third place for McLaren-Mercedes-Benz ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya's Williams. David Coulthard, in the second McLaren, was fifth and Rubens Barrichello sixth in the other scarlet Ferrari.

Eddie Irvine, reveling in the intrigue surrounding his future and enjoying a spell of good end-of-year form with the Jaguar team, was seventh and Takuma Sato, the young Japanese whose presence has swollen the crowds, was eighth for Jordan-Honda just an hour after escaping unscathed when his car's engine expired in a cloud of flames and smoke at the end of the morning's opening hour session.

Montoya, back in action in earnest after his heavy collision with the barriers on Friday, had another off-track excursion during the morning, but this time avoided making any untoward contact with the walls. Olivier Panis, in his BAR-Honda, and Mark Webber, in his Minardi, both stopped out on the circuit in the closing stages, but these were the only real incidents as the Schumachers regained control.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:32.978 225.382 km/h 21 2. R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) 1:33.233 + 0.255 22 3. Raikkonen McLaren Mercedes (M) 1:33.290 + 0.312 22 4. Montoya Williams BMW (M) 1:33.525 + 0.547 20 5. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes (M) 1:33.636 + 0.658 22 6. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:33.688 + 0.710 18 7. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1:34.544 + 1.566 20 8. Sato Jordan Honda (B) 1:34.657 + 1.679 22 9. Button Renault (M) 1:34.723 + 1.745 21 10. Massa Sauber Petronas (B) 1:34.743 + 1.765 17 11. Fisichella Jordan Honda (B) 1:34.879 + 1.901 19 12. Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) 1:34.933 + 1.955 20 13. Villeneuve BAR Honda (B) 1:35.107 + 2.129 22 14. Trulli Renault (M) 1:35.330 + 2.352 20 15. Panis BAR Honda (B) 1:35.538 + 2.560 18 16. de la Rosa Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1:35.567 + 2.589 18 17. Salo Toyota (M) 1:36.265 + 3.287 21 18. Webber Minardi Asiatech (M) 1:36.585 + 3.607 19 19. McNish Toyota (M) 1:36.640 + 3.662 19 20. Yoong Minardi Asiatech (M) 1:37.972 + 4.994 25 All Timing Unofficial

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