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  • Qualifying goes ahead at murky Mt. Fuji
  • News in brief from Fuji: Saturday
  • Ralf says Yamamoto crash a normal incident
  • Weather could worsen at gloomy Fuji

Qualifying goes ahead at murky Mt. Fuji
(GMM)  A murky Fuji Speedway hosted qualifying on Saturday, but only after plenty of uncertainty about whether the conditions would allow it.

Morning practice had been called off because the medical helicopter could not fly in the low cloud, and the weather had not substantially improved at 2pm.

The cars did exit the pits as scheduled, but only after stewards had busily devised contingency plans -- including the possibility of Sunday morning qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton narrowly captured pole from his McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, and said he wouldn't mind if Japan stays wet for the race.

"I hope it is, but I'm not bothered either way," said the Briton.

News in brief from Fuji: Saturday
(GMM)  After running with a McLaren-esque 'bridge' innovation on the front wings on Friday, Honda reverted to a more conventional bodywork setup for qualifying at Fuji Speedway.

Reports suggested that a special aerodynamic package, tested at Jerez last week and devised for the Japanese grand prix, had failed.

"Unfortunately most of the parts did not work well," the Japanese marque's Yasuhiro Wada confirmed.


Concerned about the safety of the pit lane entry at Fuji Speedway, F1 drivers asked FIA officials on Friday evening for changes - such as the moving of the speed limit line - ahead of qualifying.

A delegation led by race director Charlie Whiting oversaw an inspection of the offending right-left flick, which is approached at full speed, on Saturday morning, but decided that only braking markers should be added for the 2007 event.

It is understood that the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) are to draft a letter requesting a more substantial change for 2008.


The GPDA met and re-elected Fernando Alonso, Ralf Schumacher and Mark Webber as directors for 2008, after young drivers including Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton resisted pressure to take up a more leading role.

Another vote will be scheduled for early next season if, as is speculated, Alonso and Schumacher are no longer in formula one.

Ralf says Yamamoto crash a normal incident
(GMM)  Ralf Schumacher on Saturday refused to assign blame after he collided with Spyker's Sakon Yamamoto during qualifying for the Japanese grand prix.

The German had gone quick enough to make it through to the second part of the 60-minute session at Fuji Speedway, but had to make his way back to the pits on the back of a marshals' motorcycle after clumsily crashing into rookie Yamamoto while attempting to overtake.

"I thought he had seen me and was leaving space," Schumacher told the German broadcaster Premiere.  "These things can simply happen sometimes.

"It is not about who is to blame -- these sorts of things are racing incidents."

Weather could worsen at gloomy Fuji
(GMM)  As evening - and patters of rain - descends on Fuji Speedway after qualifying, it is suggested that an even worse day of weather awaits the Japanese grand prix for Sunday.

Heavy fog and rain marred running at the refurbished venue on Saturday, including the totally abandoned morning practice session.

But some of the teams' weather prognosticators think the conditions could worsen overnight.

One source said heavy wind and a 100 per cent chance of rain are likely for mid afternoon on Sunday, but clearly BMW-Sauber is hearing different advice.

"The weather predictions for tomorrow are not clear," said team boss Mario Theissen.  "We have to prepare for a wet race and for a drying track."

Spyker's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said he expects a wet race, while his counterpart at Toyota, Pascal Vasselon, reported that a "high risk of rain" is evident for Sunday.

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