Japanese GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Report

McLaren tops first Suzuka session

Jenson Button, Japanese GP 2012

Jenson Button, Japanese GP 2012 

 © The Cahier Archive

McLaren continued its recent run of form when Jenson Button (1:34.507) and Lewis Hamilton (1:34.740) topped the first session of free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix.

After his non-finish in Singapore, Hamilton needs a good result in Japan if he is to get is world championship challenge back on track, 52 points behind series leader Fernando Alonso.

Alonso himself called the fact that he was leading the championship " a small miracle" but is under no illusions about the threat he faces from both Hamilton and double champion Sebastian Vettel in the run-in.

Neither Alonso nor Vettel featured in the opening session but that in itself is not alarming as Friday is now effectively a test day. Mark Webber (1:34.856) did enough to demonstrate that Red Bull is not short of pace with a time just a tenth slower than Hamilton.

Mercedes was also in the picture, Nico Rosberg (1:35.059) and Michael Schumacher (1:35.122) fourth and fifth quickest, ahead of home hero Kamui Kobayashi (1:35.199) with the first of the Saubers. The C31 is expected to be strong at Suzuka, with its strong levels of downforce.

Felipe Massa (1:35.283) set the quickest Ferrari time as Alonso appeared to struggle more with his chassis, the Spaniard suffering a couple of lurid moments in the high speed Esses late in the session, flowviz paint still visible on the Ferrari rear wing.

The Force Indias of Paul Di Resta (1:35.299) and Nico Hulkenberg (1:35.474) finished the session eighth and ninth with Pastor Maldonado's Williams (1:35.478) completing the top 10.


Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter