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McLaren strikes back in second session

NEWS STORY
28/09/2007

Ahead of today's second free practice session the air temperature is now 27 degrees C, and the track temperature is 46 degrees.

Williams has opted to change the Toyota powerplant in Nico Rosberg's car which means the German forfeits ten places on the grid on Sunday.

Yamamoto heads the queue of drivers, eager to get back to work, a queue that includes Schumacher, Trulli and Rosberg. Hamilton and Alonso are also eager to get some more laps under their belts, both drivers head down the pitlane.

Once the smoke has settled, Hamilton tops the timesheets with a 1:19.978, ahead of Alonso, Kovalainen, Fisichella and Webber. However, the Ferraris have yet to make an appearance.

As Takuma Sato complains of a problem with his brake balance, Massa and Raikkonen get to work. The Brazilian goes eighth, and the Finn fifteenth. Just thirteen minutes into the session, all twenty-two drivers have been out. This is a day for gathering as much data as possible.

A 19.926 sees Fisichella go to the top of the timesheets, the Italian yet to conclude a deal for next season.

There's no stopping Adrian Sutil, in the top ten in this morning's session, he now goes seventh, crossing the line at 21.002, ahead of Kubica, Webber and Button.

Yamamoto spins at exactly the same spot where Schumacher had a problem in the first session. The Spyker driver spins the car to get pointing in the right direction and is promptly clouted by Barrichello. There's a little damage to the Spyker, but it could have been worse, much worse.

Hamilton retakes the top spot with a 19.391, ahead of the Renaults, Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa.

Moments later the world championship leader raises the benchmark with a 19.198, however, Alonso also improves (19.401), to go second.

Jean Todt watches impassively as Massa gets all crossed up and slides off onto an enormous tarmac run-off.

Hamilton is back on track and immediately goes quickest in the first two sectors, finally crossing the line at 18.734, having gone quickest in the third sector also. Massa improves to third. (19.709).

At half-time, it's: Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Kovalainen, Raikkonen, Fisichella, Kubica, Rosberg, Button and Wurz. Sutil has completed the most laps (24), ahead of Fisichella and Button (both 23).

As Yamamoto goes wide, kicking up great clouds of brown dust, Alonso is pushing to the limit. However, he remains 0.214s off his teammate's pace.

In all honesty, it's one of the most tedious uneventful sessions we can remember, though no disrespect to the circuit. Basically, not having tested here before, and with no previous data available, the drivers are simply completing lap after tedious lap.

With just under twenty-five minutes remaining, Trulli - running on the softer compound - goes fourth, splitting the Ferraris.

Great on-board shot of Kovalainen, its from behind, but just to the right of, the steering wheel. Nice to see some new camera angles this year.

With four minutes remaining, all but five drivers are on track, yet there is still no attempt at a new best time, the drivers are merely completing lap after lap, collecting all the data that they can.

Other than (fourth placed) Trulli, it's business as usual, with the McLarens and Ferraris setting the pace. BMW is clearly concentrating on everything other than a fast time, which leaves Renault as the 'third force', at least for today.

As the chequered flag comes out, both Honda drivers begin hot laps, and look set to improve. Button fails, but Barrichello improves from twenty-second to seventeenth.

To check out our Fuji Friday gallery, click here

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