Practice One - McLaren set the Suzuka standard 05 Oct 2012
McLaren got their Japanese campaign off to a strong start on Friday morning in Suzuka as Lewis Hamilton set the initial pace and then ended the 90-minute session just 0.233s slower than team mate Jenson Button.
Hamilton lapped his MP4-27 in 1m 34.910s after an early flurry, before Button later redefined the ante with 1m 34.507s. Hamilton's response to that put him ahead of Mark Webber, with 1m 34.740s.
Webber finished closest to them in his Red Bull with 1m 34.856s for third, but team mate Sebastian Vettel was down in 17th place with 1m 36.366s.
There was good and bad news for Mercedes; Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher were fourth and fifth on 1m 35.059s and 1m 35.122s respectively, but the younger German's F1 W03 rolled to a halt with mechanical problems in the Esses close to the session's end. Mercedes later confirmed the stoppage was prompted by an oil pressure alarm, which caused a precautionary engine shutdown.
As usual the times were close. Local hero Kamui Kobayashi rose to the occasion to set sixth fastest time for Sauber with 1m 35.199s, ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa on 1m 35.283s and the Force Indias of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg on 1m 35.299s and 1m 35.474s respectively.
Williams' Pastor Maldonado was 10th on 1m 35.478s, Fernando Alonso on 1m 35.484s for Ferrari, Sauber's Sergio Perez in 1m 35.584s, and Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean on 1m 35.691s and 1m 35.724s respectively in their Lotuses.
Team mates Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne were closely matched as usual, with 1m 36.123s and 1m 36.222s in 15th and 16th for Toro Rosso, while behind Vettel, reserve Valtteri Bottas lapped his Williams in 1m 36.389s.
Timo Glock was the fastest of the 'new' team runners with 1m 37.716s for Marussia, ahead of Vitaly Petrov who recorded 1m 38.295s for Caterham. Charles Pic was close to him on 1m 38.616s in the other Marussia, while the HRTs of Narain Karthikeyan (1m 39.043s) and Pedro de la Rosa (1m 39.688s) sandwiched Caterham reserve Giedo van der Garde who posted 1m 39.374s on his first visit to the track.
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