Michael on top in sunny Suzuka

Michael Schumacher, Japanese GP 2006

Michael Schumacher, Japanese GP 2006 

 © The Cahier Archive

The rains that have dogged Formula 1 in China and Japan finally cleared on Friday with the Suzuka circuit bathed in sunshine, even if there was a very strong wind blowing across the track. The morning session saw no major incident and was dominated by Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, which set a fastest lap of 1m30.653s, a full 1.2 seconds faster than the Toyota driven by his brother Ralf. Third quickest was Honda's Jenson Button, ahead of the two Renaults of Giancarlo Fisichella and Fernando Alonso. Nick Heidfeld was sixth fastest in his BMW Sauber ahead of Nico Rosberg's Williams-Cosworth, Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren, Robert Kubica's BMW and the Ferrari of Felipe Massa. Next up were the Toro Rosso of Tonio Liuzzi, Pedro de la Rosa's McLaren and Scott Speed in the second Toro Rosso.

Whether any of this is significant remains to be seen but with a big crowd at Suzuka, the qualifying session this afternoon will be interesting as Schumacher and Alonso battle for the World Championship.