Friday, 10 October 2008

Japanese Grand Prix: First Blood to Hamilton in First Practice

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man in the first practice session for Sunday's all important Japanese Grand Prix. He took top spot ahead of title rival Felipe Massa, whilst several other of the form drivers put in good showings, whilst a few big budget teams floundered.

The first practice session of the weekend got under way with pretty much perfect weather conditions, in marked contrast to the last time the Fuji Speedway saw any F1 action. In last year's race the drivers would have been better off equipped with out-board motors rather than their usual ultra-effective drive train. Today though the weather looked beautiful.

So beautiful in fact that for the first half hour of the session it looked as though the teams were just chilling out, enjoying the spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Aside from the odd installation lap here and there, the only drivers out setting any sector times were the Toyota drivers Glock and Trulli, clearly keen to set the pace at their teams very own stomping ground.

Raikkonen was the first of the big hitters to emerge, and he was soon followed by the rest of the field as the track slowly started rubbering up. Both Ferraris immediately looked quick and Massa led the way for much of the session. However, it was his main rival Hamilton who finally took the honours by being the only man so far to dip into the 1:18s. Massa wasn't far behind in the very low 1:19s, followed closely by the Finnish contingent Kovalainen and Raikkonen.

Following up their first race victory in nearly two years, Renault looked very strong throughout. No surprises as Alonso was the quicker of the two drivers, but Piquet put in a decent showing on the back of his Singapore horror show to come in P6. Vettel and Bourdais again looked competitive in the Toro Rosso, which only serves to underline how far back BMW have slumped since their race-winning form of early-to-mid season. Kubica struggled to 8th, while Heidfeld wound up 14th after two minor 'offs'. Red Bull too continue to be shown up by their junior team, as they looked very average. On their home soil both Japanese teams looked pretty weak, with their cars occupying 15th to 18th place. The top-brass in the board rooms of Toyota and Honda will not be impressed.

Practice One Times

1. HAMILTON McLaren 1m18.910s
2. MASSA Ferrari 1m19.063s
3. KOVALAINEN McLaren 1m19.279s
4. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1m19.399s
5. ALONSO Renault 1m19.473s
6. PIQUET Renault 1m19.743s
7. VETTEL Toro Rosso 1m20.121s
8. KUBICA BMW 1m20.160s
9. BOURDAIS Toro Rosso 1m20.182s
10. NAKAJIMA Williams 1m20.217s
11. SUTIL Force India 1m20.288s
12. ROSBERG Williams 1m20.350s
13. WEBBER Red Bull 1m20.620s
14. HEIDFELD BMW 1m20.628s
15. TRULLI Toyota 1m20.657s
16. BARRICHELLO Honda 1m20.753s
17. BUTTON Honda 1m20.769s
18. GLOCK Toyota 1m20.823s
19. COULTHARD Red Bull 1m20.905s
20. FISICHELLA Force India 1m21.104s

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