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Fuji 2008: Friday Afternoon Practice

Fuji 2008: Friday Afternoon Practice

Friday’s running has now been completed and the Formula One teams are undoubtedly pouring over data as I type, trying to understand how to improve their set up before qualifying tomorrow. And the driver who leaves Fuji Speedway this evening with the biggest smile? Toyota driver Timo Glock. The young German set his fastest lap quite early on in the 90 minute session and despite the best efforts of McLaren, Ferrari and Renault, Glock remained unbeatable as the practice drew to a close.

Not only is Toyota a Japanese motor manufacturer, but the company also owns the very circuit Formula One is tearing up right now, so whether or not Timo’s lap was corporate remains a mystery, but let’s just say it isn’t the first time the squad have fuelled a car light in Japan to please the sponsors. Although, the team have clearly improved this season, and Glock has been driving superbly well recently.

That was a good day. This was the first time I have driven at the Fuji Speedway so I had to learn the track this morning. It didn’t take too long – two or three laps, but it’s not an easy circuit. It’s especially difficult to find the right compromise for the long high speed straight and the last sector which is very technical.

But we sorted out a lot of stuff and we brought everything together for the second practice, which went well. I had a nice lap near the beginning of the session and it’s great for the team to end up quickest on Friday here in Japan.

So far I’m happy and it would be nice to keep the position like this for the whole weekend. That will obviously be difficult but hopefully the local fans will give us an extra boost. Timo Glock.

Team mate Jarno Trulli also improved from his morning practice times, getting his TF108 into tenth. Fernando Alonso in the Renault was second by the close of play, the Singapore Grand Prix winner having bolted on a set of softs and narrowly missed out the top spot by running wide around a corner.

McLaren and Ferrari slipped down the tables, but I imagine this is of little concern to either team. Lewis Hamilton went third, Felipe Massa fourth, Kimi Raikkonen fifth and Heikki Kovalainen mixed it up on the midfield with ninth. Local hero Kazuki Nakajima improved on his morning time, ending his day in seventh and once again ahead of his more experienced team mate Nico Rosberg.

Adrian Sutil has enjoyed a good start to his weekend, the concert pianist finishing in eleventh before lunch, and sixteenth after. Giancarlo Fisichella, on the other hand, went from twentieth to eighteenth. David Coulthard improved, although it was only from nineteenth to seventeenth. Honda also remain towards the rear of the pack.

The difference between Glock’s fastest lap and Fisichella’s fastest lap was 1.616s, showing the field was closer together after lunch. In fact, Mark Webber and Kazuki Nakajima set exactly the same laptime, the Australian getting there first and therefore being awarded the higher position. It isn’t that unusual for two drivers in different teams to set the same time to within a thousandth of a second; qualifying for Jerez in 1997 saw three drivers equal on pace at the front of the grid.

The busiest driver of the afternoon was Jarno Trulli, setting 45 lap times, and least active was Sebastian Vettel, only completing 23 tours of Fuji Speedway. The drivers will reconvene for qualifying tomorrow.

Fuji 2008: Friday Free Practice Two

1. Timo Glock Toyota 1m18.383s 44 Laps
2. Fernando Alonso Renault 1m18.426s 41 Laps
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m18.463s 40 Laps
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m18.491s 40 Laps
5. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m18.725s 39 Laps
6. Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1m18.734s 39 Laps
7. Kazuki Nakajima Williams 1m18.734s 36 Laps
8. Sebastian Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1m18.761s 23 Laps
9. Heikki Kovalainen McLaren 1m18.803s 32 Laps
10. Jarno Trulli Toyota 1m18.863s 45 Laps
11. Robert Kubica BMW 1m18.865s 39 Laps
12. Nelson Piquet Jr. Renault 1m18.888s 43 Laps
13. Nico Rosberg Williams 1m18.981s 41 Laps
14. Sebastian Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1m19.040s 41 Laps
15. Rubens Barrichello Honda 1m19.258s 42 Laps
16. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m19.287s 41 Laps
17. David Coulthard Red Bull Racing 1m19.327s 36 Laps
18. Giancarlo Fisichella Force India 1m19.482s 44 Laps
19. Nick Heidfeld BMW 1m19.894s 37 Laps
20. Jenson Button Honda 1m19.999s 42 Laps

Oliver White

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