Despite the weather doing its best to make qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix something of a lottery, there were no big name casualties in the opening 15-minute segment.

The session got underway on time despite doubts over its viability, with low cloud still hanging over Fuji, but the usual pattern of short sharp bursts from each driver was replaced by almost consistent running from all 22 as the teams attempted to make up for the loss of morning practice session and have their men on track at the optimum time.

While Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso largely dominated top spot, the rest of the field rotated as the track continued to dry throughout the session. Almost everyone took turns in the bottom half of the order - with championship leader Lewis Hamilton dropping as low as 18th at one point - but the names in the 'drop zone' were more familiar by the time the chequered flag fell.

Rubens Barrichello and Alex Wurz would have hoped to have made it through to phase two, but missed the cut by a tenth or two, while the rest of the bottom six was more predictable as Super Aguri and Spyker filled the last two rows. On a dismal day for Japan, however, Takuma Sato and Sakon Yamamoto will prop up the field unless Nico Rosberg's ten-place engine change penalty sees him drop behind them.

The session also ended on a sour note for Ralf Schumacher, driving one of the 'home circuit' Toyotas, after he collided with Yamamoto and badly damaged both his car and his chances of taking up his place in Q2.

 

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