2010 JAPANESE GP: RED BULL LEADS THE WAY


Sebastian Vettel was fastest driver today at Suzuka. The only man able to head last year's Suzuka winner was his team-mate Webber. Red Bull dominated, leaving its championship rivals over 0.8 seconds off the pace heading into the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Fernando Alonso can expect a slightly more competitive weekend, but even he was 0.897 off Vettel's best lap. Ferrari has tended to keep its cards close to its chest during Friday practice this year but a deficit of that size is nearly impossible to overcome in time for qualifying. On the plus side for Alonso, his long run lap times were much closer to Red Bull, so a competitive race is still possible even if qualifying goes Red Bull's way.

Lewis Hamilton seriously damaged his chances of fighting for victory this weekend after an accident in the morning session meant he missed over two hours of practice time. When he finally did hit the track it was with a reasonably heavy fuel load and his times were over two seconds off the pace, meaning he finished the session back in 13th. But Jenson Button's best time was still a second off the pace of Vettel, suggesting that McLaren is set for a very difficult weekend to keep its drivers in touch with the championship leaders.

Robert Kubica could be in a position to take points off some of the championship contenders after he recorded the third fastest time in the Renault. Team-mate Vitaly Petrov also looked impressive with one of his best practice performances of the season. Michael Schumacher looks set for a good weekend after he finished both sessions ahead of Nico Rosberg and in the top ten. When he headed out on a heavy fuel load he ran wide at the second Degner but, unlike Hamilton in first practice, managed to keep his car out of the barriers.

RESULTS OF FIRST FREE PRACTICE
P.  DRIVER                ТEAM                  TIME        GAP  LAPS
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m32.585s 23
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m32.633s + 0.048s 23
3. Robert Kubica Renault 1m33.129s + 0.544s 23
4. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m33.639s + 1.054s 13
5. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m33.643s + 1.058s 9
6. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m33.677s + 1.092s 21
7. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1m33.707s + 1.122s 24
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m33.739s + 1.154s 20
9. Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1m33.791s + 1.206s 23
10. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m33.831s + 1.246s 9
11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m33.929s + 1.344s 25
12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m34.042s + 1.457s 19
13. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m34.169s + 1.584s 23
14. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m34.271s + 1.686s 19
15. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m34.373s + 1.788s 24
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1m34.379s + 1.794s 21
17. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m34.991s + 2.406s 26
18. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m35.684s + 3.099s 22
19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1m36.949s + 4.364s 25
20. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m37.329s + 4.744s 17
21. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1m37.388s + 4.803s 23
22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m37.778s + 5.193s 23
23. Bruno Senna Hispania-Cosworth 1m38.814s + 6.229s 28
24. Sakon Yamamoto Hispania-Cosworth 1m39.443s + 6.858s 26

RESULTS OF SECOND FREE PRACTICE
P.  DRIVER           TEAM                   TIME        GAP   LAPS
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:31.465 31
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:31.860 + 0.395 29
3. Kubica Renault 1:32.200 + 0.735 32
4. Alonso Ferrari 1:32.362 + 0.897 34
5. Massa Ferrari 1:32.519 + 1.054 35
6. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.533 + 1.068 28
7. Petrov Renault 1:32.703 + 1.238 32
8. Schumacher Mercedes 1:32.831 + 1.366 27
9. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:32.842 + 1.377 26
10. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:32.851 + 1.386 26
11. Rosberg Mercedes 1:32.880 + 1.415 26
12. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.471 + 2.006 31
13. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.481 + 2.016 8
14. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:33.564 + 2.099 16
15. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1:33.697 + 2.232 33
16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.005 + 2.540 32
17. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.055 + 2.590 37
18. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:34.310 + 2.845 33
19. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:36.095 + 4.630 37
20. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:36.333 + 4.868 33
21. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:36.630 + 5.165 28
22. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:36.834 + 5.369 28
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:37.352 + 5.887 33
24. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:37.831 + 6.366 34