Schumacher dominates warm-up

Michael Schumacher took another step towards the world title as he dominated warm-up for the Japanese Grand Prix beneath cloudy skies.

Schumacher dominates warm-up

The weather forecast is for rain half an hour into the race according to Tokyo forecasters and a few drops fell on the paddock before the half-hour session began.

Schumacher fired in a flying lap in the final seconds of the session to go half a second quicker than title rival Mika Hakkinen in second place. The Finn's confidence must have taken another knock even though he knows he has won this race from the same second position for the last two years.

Rubens Barrichello was third and David Coulthard fourth, a reversal of their grid positions, indicating the Ferraris are competitive in race trim. While outgoing Williams driver Jenson Button continued to be best of the rest with the fifth fastest time and his Spa sparring partner Jarno Trulli, who starts 15th, was sixth quickest.

Ralf Schumacher was seventh and Jacques Villeneuve, who has the highest tally of spins this weekend (totalling four), looking more competitive in race set-up than qualifying, was eighth quickest.

Gaston Mazzacane ended up at the bottom of the times after spinning off in the final curve of the esses behind the pits.

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