Suzuka to reward quick thinkers

Suzuka has escaped the attentions of the anticipated Typhoon 22, which headed for Tokyo instead, and the Formula 1 fraternity now turns its attentions to coping with qualifying and racing all in one day

Suzuka to reward quick thinkers

Whatever happens, the race will throw up some interesting scenarios and potential surprises. The teams have thus far had no dry running and race day could yet even present teams with a wet qualifying session followed by a dry race, with tyre choice down to guess work.

In the wet on Friday, the Bridgestone-shod cars of Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella were fastest, over a second up on the fastest Michelin-shod runner, Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren. More Bridgestone cars had off-track excursions, however, prompting speculation that while the Bridgestones were quicker, they may have been more prone to aquaplaning.

"The circuit features a number of elevation changes and, as a result, a number of mini-rivers form at various points around it," explained Michelin F1 programme manager Pascal Vasselon. "The biggest problem is not so much generating grip as trying to prevent cars from aquaplaning. We saw a number of drivers sliding off the track although Fernando Alonso was the only Michelin runner affected."

Renault's engineering director Pat Symonds also pointed out that Suzuka wears tyres relatively quickly and that the characteristic will be all the more apparent if there is the need for extreme wet tyres and then the circuit subsequently dries.

"Twenty cars on extreme wets will move the water very rapidly and missing the changeover window by just one lap could have a significant effect," Symonds said. "This race looks like being one of those challenges that F1 throws up every so often and it could well reward those who react quickly to the circumstances. It could turn out to be a classic."

Pre-qualifying will take place at 9am Japanese time tomorrow, with qualifying proper at 10am and the race itself starting on schedule at 2.30pm.

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