Ferrari and McLaren dominated practice Friday for the Japanese Grand Prix - the first to be held at Fuji Speedway in 30 years.
Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa drove their Ferraris to the top of qualifying during early practice, only to be overtaken by feuding McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the afternoon.
Fuji Speedway replaces the venue at Suzuka, whose contract ended last year. Fuji has not hosted a Formula One race since 1977 and has been renovated to prepare for the modern version of the sport - but is proving a tough challenge for the drivers.
In the morning, Raikkonen and Massa, who were 1-2 in the last race in Belgium, picked up where they left off with the top times. Raikkonen clocked 1 minute 19.119 seconds while Massa came in at 1:19.498.
"It's obviously always a challenge to get to know a new track," Hamilton said. "But I have tried that three times this year."
However, for the first time he is on equal footing with the other Ferrari and McLaren drivers on an all-new circuit.
"The engineers and I walked the circuit yesterday and I was really looking forward to getting in the car this morning," he said.
Alonso also did some footwork.
"I walked the circuit with the engineers on Wednesday which always gives you an initial idea but today was when the real fun started," Alonso said. "The track is very challenging but initially it was very dusty and the grip levels were low."
Raikkonen admitted he had difficulties in the second session.
"A good morning followed by a slightly more complicated afternoon. It is quite difficult to find the best set-up on this track," Raikkonen said. "This is a demanding track but at the same time it's enjoyable to drive."
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