Schumacher crashes on rough day
FORMULA ONE JAPANESE GRAND PRIXMICHAEL SCHUMACHER crashed out of Japanese Grand Prix practice yesterday, a day after announcing his retirement, while Australian Mark Webber set the pace for Red Bull.
Schumacher, a seven times champion and winner six times at Suzuka, went wide into the Spoon corner and lost control with the car slewing sideways into the tyre wall.
The 43-year-old German removed the steering wheel, extricated himself from the cockpit, patted a marshal on the back and helped tidy up some debris before walking away. He had been fifth fastest in the morning.
I had to go to the medical centre . . . but Im 100 percent okay, said Schumacher. I think I was already concentrating on too much on the corner ahead of me and therefore had a wheel on the dirt and went off.
Force Indias Paul Di Resta had earlier gone off at the same place, a slip that left him without a timed lap in the afternoon session. His team-mate Nico Hulkenberg was fourth fastest.
Webbers best lap of one minute 32.493 seconds was the quickest of the day after McLarens Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton had led the opening session at one of the classic drivers tracks.
Button, last years race winner in Japan but with a five-place grid penalty for Sundays race after a gearbox change, set a time of 1:34.507 on a sunny morning.
McLaren will be chasing a fifth successive pole position today, the teams best run of qualifying form since 1999 when Finlands Mika Hakkinen chalked up five in a row, but Webber showed championship leaders Red Bull would be hard to beat.
The Australian was third fastest in the morning, a position filled by team-mate and double world champion Sebastian Vettel in the afternoon.
Vettel, who clinched his second title at Suzuka last year, has won two of the last three Japanese Grands Prix after starting all of them from pole.
Button was seventh after lunch with Hamilton second.
Ferraris championship leader Fernando Alonso, who is 29 points clear of Vettel, was 11th and fifth respectively.
The Spaniard has been a model of consistency, however, and Friday practice times count for little.
Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, was 13th and 14th in a Lotus but had to pit with the team warning him about a possible KERS problem that rendered the car unsafe.
He stepped out gingerly in the pits before gloved mechanics removed the cars battery. The Finn is third overall despite not having won a race yet this year.
Local favourite Kamui Kobayashi was sixth and 13th fastest for Sauber.
Vitaly Petrovs Caterham shed its rear wing at speed in the second session, leaving the Russian shaken and relieved to step out unscathed.
1 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 194pts
2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 165pts
3 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus 149pts
4 Lewis Hamilton (Brit) McLaren 142pts
5 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 132pts
1 RedBull - Renault 297pts
2 McLaren - Mercedes 261pts
3 Ferrari 245pts
4 Lotus - Renault 231pts
5 Mercedes 136pts