Ferrari have admitted to adopting a 'cautious' approach in first qualifying today at the Japanese Grand Prix, in which, number one driver, Michael Schumacher took third, while Rubens Barrichello was seventh.

Schumacher, who has a record breaking sixth world drivers' title virtually in the bag, set a best time of a 1 minute 30.464 seconds - two tenths off the provisional pole set by Renault's Jarno Trulli.

"I am quite happy with my lap and my time, considering that, yet again going out first is a slight disadvantage," said the German. "Although, here it was less penalising than at some other circuits. The car seems to be handling very well and is very competitive.

"Looking at the times, the top runners are all very close, which means that tomorrow's fight for pole will be good fun and the outcome will be hard to predict. I am looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

Schumacher's team-mate, Rubens Barrichello, who ended the session seventh, made a small mistake in the second sector costing him vital tenths.

"I am happy with the handling of the car. It's a shame about the mistake at the chicane," explained the Brazilian, "I came in a bit too quick and had to brake very hard, losing around three tenths. On the old layout at this point, the braking area was a bit longer. Now it has a different feel to it, but I think the turns are more fun and flow better.

"Both this morning and in qualifying, the times of all the top teams are very close, so I think we can be very competitive for the rest of the weekend."

Ferrari technical director, Ross Brawn added: "We adopted a rather cautious approach to this qualifying and, given how things went, I think we can expect to be pretty competitive tomorrow.

"The drivers are happy with the balance of their cars and the performance of the tyres. In tomorrow's free practice, we still have a bit of work to do in terms of choosing between the two types of tyre available. Overall, we can expect both qualifying and the race to be very close."

 

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