Schumacher reigns in the rain

Michael Schumacher did not let a wild moment in the rain put him off his stride as he led the way in the rain-hit first practice sessions for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. He ended second practice ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella and Kimi Raikkonen

Schumacher reigns in the rain

The Ferrari ace set his best lap of 1m45.388s about 15 minutes into the second session and, in trying to beat his own benchmark time again, he had a huge twitch coming out of the kink into the hairpin and was forced to head straight off the track rather than risk braking hard and spinning. He recovered quickly to get back on the circuit without drama.

Schumacher's rivals could do little to challenge the world champion's best lap, especially as the rain that has blighted the day got much heavier in the final 20 minutes of the session. Only Olivier Panis ventured out on the track in the last 10 minutes - but he could only crawl around the track as the rain left huge puddles everywhere.

Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella was the man who got closest to Schumacher, putting Bridgestone's apparent superiority in the wet conditions to good use as he ended up seven tenths of a second slower.

Kimi Raikkonen was the best Michelin runner in third position, but he will undoubtedly be concerned that his fastest effort was just more than 1.3 seconds off Schumacher - with the difference probably being accounted for on the tyre front. Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello was fourth fastest with Raikkonen's McLaren team-mate David Coulthard fifth overall.

The different performance of the two tyre manufacturers was proved beyond doubt with Jordan enjoying an ultra competitive day. Thanks to its Bridgestone tyres, Timo Glock proved that a lack of knowledge of the Suzuka circuit would be no hindrance as he ended the day sixth overall despite a spin at the hairpin immediately after setting his fastest lap. The Geman was just one hundredth of a second faster than team-mate Nick Heidfeld.

With drivers completing more laps in the second session there was inevitably a greater number of incidents - especially as the rain got harder throughout the hour.

Apart from Glock's spin at the hairpin, Fernando Alonso ran wide across the gravel trap at Degner 1, while Felipe Massa, Glock and Zsolt Baumgartner all had copycat spins in the middle of the Esses. The latter was unfortunate not to react in time and he ended up stuck in the gravel trap, while his Sauber and Jordan rivals were able to continue.

The major talking point of the day, however, was the weather - with more rain expected for qualifying on Saturday as well as fears that a typhoon may hit the day's events. Toyota's third driver Ryan Briscoe, who did not do any laps in the second session because he did not have any extreme weather tyres available, said: "The forecast is it is going to get worse."

shares
comments
New Team Plan to Make F1 Debut in 2006
Previous article

New Team Plan to Make F1 Debut in 2006

Next article

Friday Second Free Practice - Japanese GP

Friday Second Free Practice - Japanese GP
Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver Plus

Assessing Hamilton's remarkable decade as a Mercedes F1 driver

Many doubted Lewis Hamilton’s move from McLaren to Mercedes for the 2013 Formula 1 season. But the journey he’s been on since has taken the Briton to new heights - and to a further six world championship titles

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era Plus

Why new look Haas is a litmus test for Formula 1’s new era

OPINION: With teams outside the top three having struggled in Formula 1 in recent seasons, the rules changes introduced in 2022 should have more of an impact this season. How well Haas does, as the poster child for the kind of team that F1 wanted to be able to challenge at the front, is crucial

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff Plus

The Mercedes F1 pressure changes under 10 years of Toto Wolff

OPINION: Although the central building blocks for Mercedes’ recent, long-lasting Formula 1 success were installed before he joined the team, Toto Wolff has been instrumental in ensuring it maximised its finally-realised potential after years of underachievement. The 10-year anniversary of Wolff joining Mercedes marks the perfect time to assess his work

Formula 1
Feb 1, 2023
The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate Plus

The all-French F1 partnership that Ocon and Gasly hope to emulate

Alpine’s signing of Pierre Gasly alongside Esteban Ocon revives memories of a famous all-French line-up, albeit in the red of Ferrari, for BEN EDWARDS. Can the former AlphaTauri man's arrival help the French team on its path back to winning ways in a tribute act to the Prancing Horse's title-winning 1983?

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021? Plus

How do the best races of F1 2022 stack up to 2021?

OPINION: A system to score all the grands prix from the past two seasons produces some interesting results and sets a standard that 2023 should surely exceed

Formula 1
Jan 31, 2023
Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022? Plus

Who were the fastest drivers in F1 2022?

Who was the fastest driver in 2022? Everyone has an opinion, but what does the stopwatch say? Obviously, differing car performance has an effect on ultimate laptime – but it’s the relative speed of each car/driver package that’s fascinating and enlightening says ALEX KALINAUCKAS

Formula 1
Jan 30, 2023
Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return Plus

Why F1's nearly man is refreshed and ready for his return

He has more starts without a podium than anyone else in Formula 1 world championship history, but Nico Hulkenberg is back for one more shot with Haas. After spending three years on the sidelines, the revitalised German is aiming to prove to his new team what the F1 grid has been missing

Formula 1
Jan 29, 2023
The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected Plus

The potential-laden F1 car that Ferrari neglected

The late Mauro Forghieri played a key role in Ferrari’s mid-1960s turnaround, says STUART CODLING, and his pretty, intricate 1512 was among the most evocative cars of the 1.5-litre era. But a victim of priorities as Formula 1 was deemed less lucrative than success in sportscars, its true potential was never seen in period

Formula 1
Jan 28, 2023