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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 06:11 GMT 07:11 UK
F1 honours even in Japan practice
Michael Schumacher in free practice at the Japanese Grand Prix
Schumacher passes the ferris wheel in Suzuka's amusement park
Title rivals Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso were closely matched in practice at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Alonso's Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella was quickest, with a lap of one minute 34.337 seconds, 0.071secs quicker than Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

Schumacher was third fastest in his Ferrari, 0.228secs behind Fisichella and 0.298secs ahead of Alonso.

Schumacher will win the title if he wins at Suzuka on Sunday with Alonso finishing lower than eighth.

The two men are tied on points with two races to go, but although Alonso could still equal the German's points total, he would be classified second because he would have won fewer races.

Honda test driver Anthony Davidson was fifth fastest, ahead of his counterpart at BMW Sauber, Sebastian Vettel.

I was surprised by the strong reaction to what I said yesterday in the press conference

Fernando Alonso
Honda's Jenson Button was seventh, ahead of McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa, Toyota driver Jarno Trulli and the other McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen.

The session started wet, but the track had dried enough by the end for the drivers to venture out on dry-weather tyres at the end.

Alonso described it as a "normal Friday", but he moved to quell the controversy stemming from his remarks on Thursday that he had felt "alone" at times in his battle for the title this year.

"I was surprised by the strong reaction to what I said yesterday in the press conference," the Spaniard said.

Fernando Alonso
Alonso and Schumacher both bided their time in practice
"I expressed very clearly that these were only my personal feelings, and that I completely understand and accept the team's decisions.

"Last night, I explained that to the team and to Fisi, and there is no problem.

"Every single person at Renault is fighting to the maximum to win the championship.

"I don't know what people see from the outside, but within the team, we have a fantastic atmosphere right now. And we are determined to come out on top."


Second practice times at Japanese Grand Prix (* denotes test driver ineligible to race)

1. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Renault, one minute, 34.337 seconds
2. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1:34.408
3. Michael Schumacher (Ger) 1:34.565
4. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault 1:34.863
5. Anthony Davidson* (GB) Honda 1:34.906
6. Sebastian Vettel* (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:34.912
7. Jenson Button (GB) Honda 1:35.002
8. Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) McLaren-Mercedes, 1:35.064
9. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 1:35.343
10. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 1:35.367
11. Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Toyota 1:35.375
12. Michael Ammermuller* (Ger) Red Bull-Ferrari 1:35.433
13. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 1:35.528
14. Mark Webber (Aus) Williams-Cosworth 1:35.866
15. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Cosworth 1:36.176
16. Christijan Albers (Ned) Midland-Toyota 1:36.180
17. Alexander Wurz* (Aut) Williams-Cosworth 1:36.224
18. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 1:36,299
19. Franck Montagny* (Fra) Super Aguri-Honda 1:37.354
20. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:37.441
21. Scott Speed (US) Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:37.591
22. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Ferrari 1:37.596
23. Tiago Monteiro (Por) Midland-Toyota 1:37.792
24. Neel Jani* (Swi) Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1:37.741
25. Robert Doornbos (Ned) Red Bull-Ferrari 1:37.788
26. Takuma Sato (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda 1:38.533
27. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber, 1:38.778
28. Sakon Yamamoto (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda 1:38.955
29. Adrian Sutil* (Ger) Midland-Toyota 1:43.974

Leading first free practice times (* denotes test driver)

1. Davidson* one minute 45.349 seconds
2. Jani* 1:46,138
3. Vettel* 1:46.538
4. Ammermuller* 1:47.162
5. Sutil* 1:47.773
6. Speed 1:47.814
7. Albers 1:47.838
8. Montaigny 1:47.918
9. Wurz* 1:47.919
10. Sato 1:48.042
11. Yamamoto 1:50.479.
Webber, no time
Rosberg, no time
Raikkonen, no time
Doornbos, no time
Kubica, no time
Coulthard, no time
Alonso, no time
Fisichella, no time
Button, no time
Liuzzi, no time
Barrichello, no time
Heidfeld, no time
Trulli, no time
R Schumacher, no time
Monteiro, no time
De la Rosa, no time
Schumacher, no time
Massa, no time



SEE ALSO
Schumacher not good for F1 - Hill
06 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Alonso criticises Renault tactics
06 Oct 06 |  Formula One
Red-faced Heidfeld offers apology
05 Oct 06 |  Formula One


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