Japanese GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report
Red Bull on top in first session at Suzuka
Sebastian Vettel (1:32.585) and Mark Webber (1:32.633) set the fastest times of the first free practice session in Suzuka at a track where they are hoping Red Bull's RB6 will give them an advantage.
Adrian Newey's chassis has been superb through high speed corners, most notably at Barcelona, where the Red Bulls were flat through Turn 9 and about 9mph up on their closest competitors.
Vettel, winner in Japan last year as Webber missed qualifying after crashing in Saturday morning practice, was quickly into his stride and set the pace for most of the session with his team mate ultimately recording a time just four hundredths adrift.
Robert Kubica's Renault (1:33.129) was third fastest, ahead of Adrian Sutil's Force India (1:33.639). Lewis Hamilton (1:33.643) finished up with sixth fastest time and set the pace in the early part of the session before crashing on the exit of Degner and suffering quite severe damage to the McLaren's left front corner. Team mate Jenson Button had a similar moment at the same place in the dying minutes but got away with it.
The Williams-Cosworths continued their recent form with six and seventh places from Rubens Barrichello (1:33.677) and Nico Hulkenberg (1:33.707) respectively. Michael Schumacher (1:33.739), always a big fan of Suzuka, especially the fast, sweeping first sector of the lap, was well in touch, a tenth quicker than Mercedes team mate Nick Heidfeld (1:33.831), the pair split by Nick Heidfeld's Sauber (1:33.791).
The Ferraris have yet to set representative times with Felipe Massa 11th and Fernando Alonso 13th.