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Ferraris lead the way in opening session

NEWS STORY
28/09/2007

Ahead of today's opening free practice session, the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 40 degrees.

The light go green and first out is Sutil, followed by Yamamoto, Davidson, Kubica and a whole load of others, including the McLaren duo, as many drivers get their first taste of the Fuji Speedway. Having completed an installation lap, they all return to the pits, only the Ferrari and Williams drivers opting to bide their time.

Eleven minutes into the session, Sutil, Yamamoto and Sato are back on track. While the Super Aguri driver merely completes another installation lap, the Spykers stay out, Sutil having the honour of posting the first time of the weekend (1:22.377).

Gradually more and more drivers come out to play, Schumacher raising the benchmark to 22.263 before his teammate improves with a 22.012.

Lewis Hamilton heads down the pitlane as Schumacher improvers to 21.841, the Englishman takes 0.373s out of the German in the first sector. The championship leader crosses the line at 20.416, game on.

Next time around the Englishman improves with a 19.976, as Vettel pulls to the side of the track, his session over.

Alonso goes second (21.152), and Kovalainen third, as Massa and Raikkonen get to work.

Massa's first flying lap sees the Brazilian go fourth (20.922), while his teammate can only manage thirteenth (22.524).

Massa improves with a 19.811, to go quickest, as Raikkonen improves to fifth, ahead of Heidfeld, Trulli and Kubica.

Several drivers had had 'excursions' at various points on the track, Massa being one of them. The Brazilian kicks up a big cloud of dust as he goes wide. Meanwhile, his Ferrari teammate goes second (19.892).

At 'half-time', it's: Massa, Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso, Kovalainen, Kubica, Heidfeld, Trulli, Davidson and Fisichella.

There's a bit of a moment as Davidson passes Webber, the Australian appearing not to notice the Super Aguri until the last possible moment and subsequently going wide once he realised the Englishman was there.

With just over half an hour remaining, Yamamoto pulls to the side of the track, his session over, much to the obvious frustration of his crew. Elsewhere, Schumacher spins and almost collects another car as he attempts to get his car pointing in the right direction again.

Fisichella improves to seventh, splitting the BMWs, while Coulthard remains firmly rooted at the foot of the timesheets, 3.7s off the pace. The Red Bull driver is wearing a special helmet livery this weekend in tribute to rally legend, and fellow Scot, Colin McRae, who was killed in a helicopter crash over the weekend of the Belgian GP. Also at the wrong end of the timesheet is Barrichello and Wurz.

With just over fifteen minutes remaining, Kubica improves to sixth, just 0.026s off Kovalainen's pace.

Vettel goes sixteenth, his problem clearly having been 'sorted'. Meanwhile, Raikkonen is on a hot lap, up 0.027s at the second split. He improves, but so too does Massa, however, next time round the Finn takes the top spot with a 19.333.

As Trulli posts personal bests in the first two sectors, Alonso and Hamilton are on track. The Italian goes fifth (20.483), as the World Champion makes a mistake which costs him precious time.

Next time around Alonso improves but only to third, leapfrogging his teammate. He remains 0.334s off Raikkonen's best.

Rosberg posts 20.058 to go fifth, edging out Kubica and Trulli. Meanwhile, there's a piece of debris in the middle of the track on the pit straight, the drivers are all keen to give it a swerve.

The session ends with Raikkonen quickest, ahead of Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Kubica, Wurz (a late improvement), Trulli, Sutil and Davidson.

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