Japan P1: Button edges Hamilton
McLaren ran one-two in first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Jenson Button edging out Lewis Hamilton.
By Mike Wise at Suzuka
Last Updated: 05/10/12 9:01am
McLaren ran one-two in first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Jenson Button edging Lewis Hamilton.
Button lapped the 5.807km Suzuka track in a time of 1:34.507 seconds, with Hamilton 0.233s further back ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, who stopped on track during the closing moments.
Team-mate Michael Schumacher was fifth fastest ahead of Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, with Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Paul di Resta (Force India), Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) and Pastor Maldonado (Williams) completing the top ten.
Although the session followed a familiar pattern with a slow start, Hamilton was a notable early presence.
In sunny and warm conditions, he soon put the first lap on the board - a 1:34.910s effort that would have been good enough for fourth place overall.
The majority of runners - all of whom concentrated on running the hard tyre Pirelli have provided this weekend together with the soft compound - eventually followed suit, with Webber briefly going quickest before Button took to the track.
He soon jumped ahead of his team-mate, with Hamilton in turn leapfrogging back over Webber.
With Rosberg also moving up there - albeit over half a second off the ultimate pace - the top times remained static during the closing 40 minutes.
However, Rosberg's own track time came to a premature halt just moments before the chequered flag when his car appeared to lose power heading out of the first corner.
Mercedes later said the engine was shut down as a precautionary measure because of an oil pressure problem.
Schumacher had moved up to fifth by then but the session was a quiet one for the top two title contenders.
Fernando Alonso wound up 11th fastest as Ferrari once again trialled the new rear wing they discarded in Singapore, while Sebastian Vettel was 17th.
Elsewhere, Lotus have brought a raft of new parts - including front and rear wings and the floor they too discarded two weeks ago - to Japan.
Kimi Raikkonen was also running the 'device' that helps give the E20 an added straightline speed boost and he ended 13th, one place ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Meanwhile, Sergio Perez was 12th, with the future McLaren recruit surviving a lurid moment through 130R - his Sauber taking to the grass before its driver regained control.