Tag Archives: schumacher

Bahrain Grand Prix 2013: Lewis Hamilton 37 points clear of Jenson Button – Phil Duncan

The Chequered Flag: Hamilton streaks clear of Button as McLaren continue to struggle

with arguably the most complete package on the grid while a top-10 finish for Mercedes became as rare as a nun in a bikini. We mustn’t forget that in the final six races of last season, the Silver Arrows managed only one points-scoring finish when Michael Schumacher ended his F1 career with a seventh place at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

he’d gathered 43.

At the same stage this year, he is 10th in the championship with just 13 points. Unlucky for some. Unlucky for Button.

For his old sparring partner however, this season, in terms of points attained, ranks as a better start for Hamilton than both the 2010 and 2012 seasons.

Indeed with a total of 50 already on the championship table, the 2008 world champion has collated a bigger haul than the man who he replaced – that’s Michael Schumacher for those of you with a short-term memory – managed in 20 outings for the German manufacturer last season.

Off the pace: Button and McLaren have endured a slow start to the season

Promising start: Hamilton has already amassed more points than Schumacher did in his whole Mercedes career

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You can follow Phil at: @PhilDuncanF1

I cannot recall a time when Hamilton was so happy to finish fifth, but the British star knows Bahrain is Mercedes’ achilles heel, and the fact that he leaves the Gulf Kingdom with a decent haul of points after a troubled weekend, will provide him and his team with a major boost as Formula One heads back to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix in three weeks time.

We should make no bones about it, Hamilton can fight for this year’s title. But whether he will be able to rival Vettel, whose performance yesterday illustrated exactly why he is a triple world champion, remains to be seen.

The same however, probably cannot be said of Button. The McLaren is already beginning to look like a better-tamed beast than the unruly animal which was unleashed in Melbourne over a month ago. But that said, the British star is already 64 points behind Vettel.

Barcelona will provide the Woking-based team with the acid test; a poor weekend in Spain usually translates to a poor season.

And Button, who has finished on the Spanish podium only twice in 12 previous attempts, will want his focus in Barcelona to be on the sharp end of the pack and not banging wheels with team-mate Sergio Perez while fighting for the menial places as in Bahrain.

Flashpoint: Perez and Button were locked in battle

Flashpoint: Perez and Button were locked in battle

Organisers of the Bahrain Grand Prix are already turning their attention to next season and the 10th anniversary of their hotly-disputed race.

‘We are looking at many options,’ Zayed Al Zayani, chairman of the event, told AUTOSPORT today.

‘A night race is one of them, but it is not the only one,’ he continued. ‘It is our tenth race and our tenth anniversary, so we want to do something different.’

It is also being suggested that the race could be moved to the opening weekend of the season. I for one hope this isn’t the case.

Australia should play host to every Formula One curtain raiser in my opinion, but I guess money will talk…

Five more years: Ecclestone is ready to sign a new deal with Bahrain

Five more years: Ecclestone is ready to sign a new deal with Bahrain

Driver of the Day

So close, yet so far. Paul Di Resta was on course to become the first Scottish driver on the podium in almost five years before he was overtaken by Romain Grosjean in the closing stages of yesterday’s race.

Nevertheless, it ranked as an impressive weekend for the 27-year-old who looks to have the bit between his teeth in his third season with Force India.

The Scot has made no secret of his desire to race for a bigger team, and after being snubbed by McLaren, what better way to bounce back than by doing your talking on the track.

Great Scot: Di Resta finished in fourth

Great Scot: Di Resta finished in fourth

Michael Schumacher tainted his F1 legacy – Bernie Ecclestone

Schuey tainted his legacy by coming out of retirement, claims F1 chief Ecclestone

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UPDATED:

15:24 GMT, 7 December 2012

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone fears Michael Schumacher has damaged his legacy by coming out of retirement to race with Mercedes.

Ecclestone claimed the seven-time world champion's decision to return to the sport in 2010 was a big mistake.

Speaking to the official Formula One website, Ecclestone said: 'I would rather he had stopped as a seven-time world champion than stopping now.

End of the road: Schumacher has retired for a second time after a largely unsuccessful stint at Mercedes

End of the road: Schumacher has retired for a second time after a largely unsuccessful stint at Mercedes

'People new to the sport, people who have joined the F1 fan fraternity just recently, will remember Michael now, not as he was.

'They don't see the hero that he was but the human that can fail. I think the important thing is to know when you can't do what you used to do any more and then hand it over to somebody else. I hope that's what I can do: when I feel I can't deliver, I will certainly say goodbye.'

Schumacher spoke of his relief after deciding to retire for a second time and has handed the baton of reviving Mercedes' fortunes over to Lewis Hamilton.

Loss: Ecclestone claims Formula One will miss Schumacher

Loss: Ecclestone claims Formula One will miss Schumacher

But despite three largely unsuccessful seasons in his second stint in Formula One, Ecclestone acknowledged Schumacher will be a loss to the grand prix paddock.

He said: 'He enjoyed racing and was there helping to do good things for Formula One. We will miss Michael, because even though he wasn't winning races in those three years, he is still very popular.'

Shane Warne"s return: Sportsmail looks at others who came back

The Roaring Forties! As Warne targets return, Sportsmail looks at others who couldn't stay away

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UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 4 December 2012

Australian cricketer Shane Warne has opened the door to a return to international cricket in time for the Ashes this summer.

Here, Sportsmail takes a look back at sportsmen who simply couldn't stay away…

Michael Schumacher

The seven-time Formula One world champion announced his return at 41, driving in the 2010 season for Mercedes.

He finished his first season ninth in the drivers' championship with 72 points and his second in eighth.

After his final race last month in Brazil, he finished 13th in the drivers' championship.

Returning hero: Michael Schumacher went back to Formula 1 after retiring

Returning hero: Michael Schumacher went back to Formula 1 after retiring

Thomas Muster

The winner of the 1995 French Open announced his return to tennis in June 2010 at the age of 43.

Muster played in a Challenger tournament in Germany, but lost in the first round and in his next three tournaments.

His first win came in his fifth Challenger tournament and he finally retired after losing at the Erste Bank Open in October 2010.

Evander Holyfield

The four-time world boxing champion came back in August 2006 aged 42. He defeated Jeremy Bates before losing to Sultan Ibragimov in October 2007 in a WBO heavyweight title fight.

Holyfield was beaten again in December 2008 by Nikolai Valuev and won his last fight against Brian Nielsen in May 2011 by a technical knockout.

Back between the ropes: Evander Holyfield

Back between the ropes: Evander Holyfield

Fred Titmus

IN 1975, the 42-year-old off-spinner made a return to the England team, playing in the fourth Ashes Test, taking seven wickets and scoring 61.

He played in two one-day internationals against New Zealand, taking 3-53 in the second before playing his last full year in 1976 in England. He made his last appearance for Middlesex in 1982, aged 50.

Lester Piggott

The legendary jockey retired in 1985 but in 1987 was convicted of tax fraud and jailed for three years.

After serving 366 days and being stripped of his OBE, Piggott resumed racing in 1990, aged 45.

He won the Breeders' Cup Mile on Royal Academy and the 2000 Guineas on Rodrigo de Triano in 1992.

Piggott rode his last winner in October 1994.

Remember me Lester Piggott, champion flat race jockey, couldn't stay away

Remember me Lester Piggott, champion flat race jockey, couldn't stay away

Mark Spitz

Spitz retired immediately after winning seven swimming golds at the 1972 Munich Olympics, aged 22.

But at 41 he returned to the pool in 1992 to try for a place on the USA swimming team for the Barcelona Olympics.

He finished two seconds outside the qualifying time at the Olympic trials and retired again.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton finish top two after first practice session

Vettel and Hamilton set to do battle for Abu Dhabi pole as Button reveals regret at team-mate's exit

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UPDATED:

15:28 GMT, 2 November 2012

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton again appear poised to slug it out for pole position ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Vettel edged Hamilton in the second 90-minute practice session at the Yas Marina track that replicated race conditions as it began under a setting sun and ended in darkness.

The duo have now been quickest in eight of the 11 practice outings overall over the past four years of this event – a remarkable record, with no-one seemingly able to hold a candle to them.

Out in front: Lewis Hamilton drives during the first practice session at the Yas Marina circuit

Out in front: Lewis Hamilton drives during the first practice session at the Yas Marina circuit

Setting the pace: Lewis Hamilton was fastest after first practice

Setting the pace: Lewis Hamilton was fastest after first practice

RESULTS AFTER FIRST PRACTICE

1. Hamilton
2. Button
3. Vettel
4. Alonso
5. Webber
6. Schumacher
7. Maldonado
8. Rosberg
9. Bottas
10. Raikkonen

Certainly Alonso has to avoid a
six-place gap between himself and Vettel as other than Button, Red
Bull's Mark Webber and the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi
Raikkonen were all in between.

Alonso was the last of those within a
second of Vettel, with Felipe Massa eighth on the timesheet, but
1.072secs adrift of the 25-year-old, who is aiming for his fifth
consecutive win on Sunday.

Williams duo Pastor Maldonado and
Bruno Senna were within two tenths of a second of one another in ninth
and 11th, sandwiching McLaren-bound Sergio Perez in his Sauber, with the
Mexican 1.355secs down.

There followed a trio of Germans in
Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, 12th and 14th, who
sat either side of Nico Hulkenberg in his Force India, with all around
1.5secs off the pace.

Paul di Resta, forced to sit out
first practice as Jules Bianchi was given another outing, finished a
third of a second behind Hulkenberg in 15th.

Setting the pace: Hamilton leaves the pits during the first practice session

Setting the pace: Hamilton leaves the pits during the first practice session

Like Di Resta, HRT's Narain
Karthikeyan also missed FP1 in favour of reserve Ma Qing Hua, and
finished last on the timesheet, 5.655secs behind Vettel.

Earlier in the day, 21-year-old
Briton Max Chilton was given his first taste of a F1 weekend as he drove
for Marussia, acquitting himself well with 22 laps and finishing a
second off team-mate Timo Glock come the conclusion.

Meanwhile, Button believes Hamilton's impending exit from McLaren will be 'a big loss' to the team.

Big loss: Jenson Button says McLaren will miss Hamilton next season

Big loss: Jenson Button says McLaren will miss Hamilton next season

Grosjean confident he'll be at Lotus next season

Romain Grosjean sees no reason why he will not be partnering Kimi Raikkonen for a second season at Lotus next year.

Earlier this week Lotus confirmed Raikkonen had signed a new one-year deal following a successful return to Formula One after two years competing in rallies and NASCAR.

Lotus, however, made no mention of French driver Grosjean, perhaps unsurprising given the errors he has made this year and penalties incurred.

After two races without incident, it may be Lotus are waiting until the end of the campaign to ensure Grosjean has learned lessons and they can again trust him for the future.

Grosjean, 26, is confident of his seat for 2013 as he said: “With the team we're happy together, they've put a lot of confidence and faith in me during a hard time.

'I'm showing them I'm working and improving and trying to sort out all the problems, whilst keeping my speed.

'But there is no reason that it goes bad for the future.'
Grosjean has confirmed Lotus kept him informed of Raikkonen's deal, and that it 'didn't come as a surprise'.

When Lotus will make an announcement with regard to his own position is open to question, with Grosjean adding: 'I've no idea, to be honest.

'(Team principal) Eric Boullier is better placed than me to answer that.'

Button has previously made it clear
he has enjoyed pitting his wits against a fellow world champion in
Hamilton these past three years, helping to make him a better driver.

Although there will be no second crown
for either man this season, a 24-point gap between the British duo
means Hamilton is set to leave for Mercedes with a 2-1 victory in their
inter-team rivalry based on total points at the end of the season.

Rising star Sergio Perez may have been
recruited as replacement, but the 32-year-old Button cannot help but
feel Hamilton's departure will be felt by the team.

'With Lewis leaving, obviously the team loses a very fast driver,' said Button.

'He's
a guy that's achieved a lot with the team, wins and obviously a world
championship – the last guy to win a world championship for the team.

'It is a big loss, but things change and you learn to move on and adapt. It's definitely not the end of two strong drivers at McLaren.'

Although Perez has acquitted himself well at Sauber over the last two years, the 22-year-old Mexican still remains an unknown quantity.

Perez has conjured three superb podiums this season but his results have otherwise been sporadic, and notably since he was announced as Hamilton's replacement he has failed to score a point in three races.

Assessing Perez's potential, Button added: 'I think Sergio will be fast, but I really don't know.

'He's obviously unknown in a McLaren because he's not there yet. But it's a great opportunity for Checo, and I'm sure he will take it with both hands.'

Hamilton, meanwhile, insists he has no regrets about joining Mercedes, who are currently on their worst run since returning to the sport at the start of 2010.

Like Perez, since Hamilton announced he was moving to the Brackley-based team on a three-year contract, they have also failed to pick up a point in the last three races.

When you consider that in the previous 52 races Mercedes had not scored in only four, it highlights just how much they have plumbed the depths.

Asked by Press Association Sport about Mercedes' run, Hamilton said: “I've been told about it.

'It makes me even more driven to help them score points, and no, I'm not thinking 'have I made right decision'

'I'm very happy with the decision I made. What is happening to them doesn't have any impact on that.

'People do sometimes lose their way. Even we (McLaren) have struggled in the past and not scored points.'

Appreciating the size of the task awaiting him at Mercedes when he officially joins on January 1, Hamilton said: 'I already knew how big it was going to be.

'I really thought about it long and hard, and I could see how big it was. Perhaps it's now growing.

'But as a task I'm really excited about it, excited to meet new people and to being in a different environment, and to mould myself into that environment.'

Sebastian Vettel beats rival Fernando Alonso in Indian Grand Prix practice

Title boost for Vettel as Red Bull ace beats rival Alonso in practice for Indian Grand Prix

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UPDATED:

07:50 GMT, 26 October 2012

Sebastian Vettel continued his current dominance of Formula One by comfortably finishing top of the timesheets following first practice for Sunday's Indian Grand Prix.

Following a run of three successive victories, Vettel heads into the race at the Buddh International Circuit on the outskirts of New Delhi with a six-point cushion over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

It would appear, with just 100 points up for grabs from the remaining four races, that a title race so open-ended after the summer break less than two months ago has become a two-horse affair.

All smiles: Vettel topped the timesheets in Friday's first practice session

All smiles: Vettel topped the timesheets in Friday's first practice session

Vettel is in the ascendancy and has the momentum in a Red Bull that lapped the dusty 5.125km circuit, shrouded in smog come the start of the initial 90-minute session, in a time of one minute 27.619secs.

The usual suspects were left trailing, spearheaded by Jenson Button in his McLaren, the Briton 0.310secs adrift, followed by Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

On track: The double world champion holds a six-point lead over Alonso ahead of Sunday's Indian Grand Prix

On track: The double world champion holds a six-point lead over Alonso ahead of Sunday's Indian Grand Prix

Alonso finished 0.425secs down on Vettel, with Hamilton a further two thousandths of a second behind, whilst Vettel's team-mate in Mark Webber was over half a second off the pace.

As for the remainder, there was a considerable gap between Webber and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg of three tenths of a second, with Felipe Massa in his Ferrari the only other driver to finish within a second of Vettel.

Under his umbrella: Hamilton is still in with a mathematical chance of winning this year's title

Under his umbrella: Hamilton is still in with a mathematical chance of winning this year's title

The soon-to-be-retiring-for-a-second-time Michael Schumacher was down in eighth in his Mercedes, but 1.374secs behind, the 43-year-old German followed by Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo and Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen.

Further suggesting he is ripe for a race seat next season, Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas had the edge over Pastor Maldonado by 3.5secs, the duo 11th and 16th.

Rival: The Spaniard was 0.425 seconds adrift of Vettel

Rival: The Spaniard was 0.425 seconds adrift of Vettel

Force India's Paul di Resta was down in 12th, but just over two seconds down, narrowly finishing ahead of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg.

Another reserve in Caterham's Giedo van der Garde, taking the place of Heikki Kovalainen, was only 0.3secs behind Vitaly Petrov as they finished 18th and 19th.

Flying the flag: Button drives past a largely deserted grandstand

Flying the flag: Button drives past a largely deserted grandstand

At Sauber, in his first outing in a F1 car at a grand prix weekend, Esteban Gutierrez was 20th, 1.4secs behind Kamui Kobayashi.

The Mexican, replacing Sergio Perez who the team claim was left out due to a fever although the 22-year-old has tweeted he felt fine, survived one hair-raising moment when he came close to putting his car in the wall.

At the bottom of the field was HRT's Pedro de la Rosa, 5.2secs off of Vettel, and 0.7secs down on the only Indian in F1 in Narain Karthikeyan.

Sebastian Vettel on pole for Japanese Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton in ninth

Vettel handed title boost in Japan after securing pole position but Hamilton falters

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UPDATED:

07:51 GMT, 6 October 2012

Sebastian Vettel boosted his World Championship hopes as he claimed his fourth consecutive Japanese Grand Prix pole position while Fernando Alonso struggled at Suzuka.

The Red Bull driver produced a superb lap of one minute 30.839 seconds to secure the 34th pole of his career, moving him third on the all-time list – behind only Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.

Mark Webber made it an all-Red Bull front row while home hero Kamui Kobayashi will start third for Sauber as McLaren's Jenson Button, who set the third fastest time, serves a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Job done: Vettel celebrates after securing the 34th pole position of his career

Job done: Vettel celebrates after securing the 34th pole position of his career

Japanese Grand Prix qualifying

1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
3. Jenson Button (McLaren)*
4. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
5. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
6. Sergio Perez (Sauber)
7. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
8. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
9. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)*

* demotes five-place grid penalty

But World Championship leader Alonso, who holds a 29-point advantage over Vettel, will only start sixth as Ferrari's recent struggles continued.

It was a bitterly disappointing day for Lewis Hamilton, on a weekend dominated by his move to Mercedes for 2013. He will start behind Button even with his team-mate's penalty.

Hamilton radioed his team in Q1 to tell them he felt he was in for a 'struggle' and it proved to be the case as he could only manage the ninth fastest time, putting a dent in his own hopes of closing his 52-point deficit to Alonso.

On track: Vettel will start tomorrow's race 29 points adrift of championship leader Fernando Alonso

On track: Vettel will start tomorrow's race 29 points adrift of championship leader Fernando Alonso

All smiles: The German secured the 34th pole position of his career on Saturday

All smiles: The German secured the 34th pole position of his career on Saturday

As a result of Button's grid drop, Romain Grosjean will line up fourth in the leading Renault with new McLaren signing Sergio Perez underlining Sauber's pace this weekend as the Mexican secured fifth on the grid.

Alonso will start sixth as he benefits from Button's penalty, but the Spaniard will be concerned as Ferrari find themselves off the pace of Red Bull and McLaren for the fifth race in a row.

Lewis Hamilton

Sebastian Vettel

Contrasting fortunes: Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix from ninth with Vettel on pole

Kimi Raikkonen, who had a spin at the Spoon Curve late in Q3, will line up seventh ahead of the two McLarens. Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was 10th fastest but he also serves a five-place grid penalty after his gearbox was changed following an off in final practice this morning.

Felipe Massa could not repeat his impressive performance in morning practice as he failed to get into Q3 with Paul Di Resta and Michael Schumacher next up, although the seven-time champion is another driver serving a penalty.

Work to do: Hamilton needed a strong result at Suzuka to keep alive his slim title hopes

Work to do: Hamilton needed a strong result at Suzuka to keep alive his slim title hopes

Pastor Maldonado headed Nico Rosberg as Mercedes had a miserable qualifying followed by the Toro Rosso pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Vergne was handed a three-place grid penalty after impeding the Williams of Bruno Senna during qualifying.

The French driver blocked the
Brazilian late in Q1, leaving Senna gesticulating furiously at him as he
saw his flying lap ruined.

False hope: Button qualified third but will start Sunday's race from eighth after a five-place penalty

False hope: Button qualified third but will start Sunday's race from eighth after a five-place penalty

The incident proved critical for both drivers when Schumacher snuck through into Q2 with the chequered flag out at the end of the first part of qualifying. The German demoted Senna into the drop zone as Vergne just made the cut in 17th place.

Vergne will only actually drop two places as Schumacher serves a 10-place penalty, for crashing into the Toro Rosso man in Singapore, which moves the seven-time champion behind him.

As expected the Caterhams, Marussias and HRTs were the six slowest cars during the session.

Out of sorts: The championship leader could only manage sixth in Japan

Out of sorts: Championship leader, Fernando Alonso, could only manage sixth in Japan

Phil Duncan F1 blog

Vettel was delighted with his pole position, and described his qualifying as 'perfect'.

He said: 'I am very happy with the result. We had a very smooth qualifying – really perfect. We could not ask for more.

'The car felt fantastic from the start of the session. We did not have the best start to the weekend but we have seemed to get better every time we have gone out. I am very pleased with the result.

'The car feels fantastic around here and obviously we hope for a very good race tomorrow.'

But the German's joy could be shortlived after the stewards chose to look at whether he had impeded Alonso during the closing moments of Q3.

Team-mate Webber was pleased Red Bull had made the decision to go out early in Q3, giving them a clear track that those running later could not enjoy.

'It has been a good weekend for us so far,' the Australian said. 'Seb and I had a clean run in Q3 when it mattered with two pretty big laps from both of us.

'Seb got me a bit there and it was a good lap from him, but to be further up for us is good.'

Button, meanwhile, acknowledged the Red Bulls have got the edge on speed this weekend, and admitted his penalty was hard to take.

'That hurts a little bit,' he said. 'But both laps in Q3 were good. I really enjoyed driving round here. It is always great with low fuel and new soft tyres.

'It was fun but not quick enough. I don't know if I could put my finger on where that four tenths is.

'It will be difficult to fight for the win, but never say never. There are always possibilities and I think we will have a good race.'

Lewis Hamilton fastest for McLaren in Japanese Grand Prix practice

Hamilton forgets about Mercedes move to help McLaren set pace in Suzuka practice

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UPDATED:

06:05 GMT, 5 October 2012

McLaren looked like they could again be the team to beat as Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton led the way in first practice for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

McLaren have won three of the last four races, and would almost certainly have won last time out in Singapore had Hamilton not ground to a halt with a gearbox problem while leading, and they were on the pace once more here.

Hamilton, who leaves for Mercedes at the end of the season, is looking to close a 52-point gap to championship leader Fernando Alonso, but it was team-mate Button, who has to take a five-place grid penalty this weekend, who topped the timesheets.

Relaxed: Lewis Hamilton (right) chats with a member of his McLaren team at the Suzuka circuit

Relaxed: Lewis Hamilton (right) chats with a member of his McLaren team at the Suzuka circuit

Wheel impressive: Hamilton was second fastest in first practice despite a tumultuous week

Wheel impressive: Hamilton was second fastest in first practice despite a tumultuous week

The 2009 world champion took 55 minutes to set a timed lap, but his second flying effort of one minute and 34.507 seconds moved him to the head of the leaderboard, where he remained for the rest of the session.

Hamilton had set the early pace, and ended the morning running just over two-tenths down on his compatriot.

Mark Webber was the quickest of the Red Bulls in third, with team-mate Sebastian Vettel down in 17th.

Smokin': Jenson Button topped the timesheets on Friday morning ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix

Smokin': Jenson Button topped the timesheets on Friday morning ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg gave future team-mate Hamilton a reminder of his speed with the fourth fastest time, but was forced to park his car at the Esses with a technical problem late in the session.

Michael Schumacher, fresh from announcing he will retire at the season's end, was fifth.

The German had vowed to give his all over the final six races of the season and he was certainly exploring his limits, correcting a big slide after dropping a wheel on the grass on the entry to the Degner curves, before having a trip across the chicane.

Off course: Michael Schumacher, whom Hamilton will replace at Mercedes, steers across a chicane

Off course: Michael Schumacher, whom Hamilton will replace at Mercedes, steers across a chicane

Home favourite Kamui Kobayashi delighted the expectant crowd with the sixth best time, while Felipe Massa was the top Ferrari in seventh, with the Italian team once again looking short of pace as Alonso languished in 11th place.

Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were eighth and ninth for Force India, with Pastor Maldonado 10th for Williams and new McLaren signing Sergio Perez 12th for Sauber after a wild moment through the high-speed 130R corner.

The man to beat: But world championship leader Fernando Alonso was only 11th fastest

The man to beat: But world championship leader Fernando Alonso was only 11th fastest

Kimi Raikkonen, running a new double DRS device on his Lotus, was 13th, ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean, who enjoyed several excursions as the teams got to grip with the hard compound Pirelli tyres. The softs were likely to be evaluated during the second practice session later.

Michael Schumacher warns Lewis Hamilton about Mercedes car

Over to Lew! Schumacher bows out with warning to Hamilton over car

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UPDATED:

00:11 GMT, 5 October 2012

Handing the baton on to Lewis Hamilton, Michael Schumacher used the second retirement speech of his career to highlight the formidable task that awaits his replacement at Mercedes.

That Schumacher decided to call it a day is no surprise. Ever since Mercedes received positive vibes from Hamilton that a move from McLaren was possible, the German team had been working on a dignified exit plan.

Scroll down for video

Putting the brakes on: Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the season

Putting the brakes on: Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the season

Putting the brakes on: Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the season

Putting the brakes on: Michael Schumacher will retire at the end of the season

The agreed line was that Schumacher
cannot offer the long-term commitment that Hamilton can, which was
hardly a revelation since the seven-time world champion will be 44 by
the time next season comes around.

More plausible was that, without a
win and just one podium to his name during his second coming, Schumacher
had simply lost his mojo and Hamilton’s arrival had only served to
speed up the decision-making process.

‘The special moment is that the team
have found an option with Lewis that helped me find the decision,
because there was an option for me to retire at an earlier stage,’ said
Schumacher, coming as close as could be expected to saying he had been
pushed.

Glamour: The seven-time world champion will go down in F1 history

Glamour: The seven-time world champion will go down in F1 history

Tainted Schumacher, who crashed spectacularly in Singapore, has failed to match the achievements in his second spell of those in his first all-conquering time at the wheel

Tainted Schumacher, who crashed spectacularly in Singapore, has failed to match the achievements in his second spell of those in his first all-conquering time at the wheel

Admitting he had failed to live up to
his standards, Schumacher conceded: 'I said at the end of 2009 that I
want to be measured by my success, and this is why I had a lot of
criticism in the past three years which partly was justified.

'It is without doubt that we did not achieve our goal to develop a world championship-fighting car within those years.’

That challenge, from next season,
rests in Hamilton’s hands. But the 27-year-old admitted he will be
largely behind McLaren next year.

One of the men Hamilton will be chasing will be his replacement Sergio Perez. ‘I think he will surprise us all,’ he said.

Beware! Schumacher has fired a warning to his replacment Hamilton

Beware! Schumacher has fired a warning to his replacment Hamilton

VIDEO: Michael Schumacher retires…again…

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MICHAEL SCHUMACHER FACTFILE
Smooth: Michael Schumacher

Smooth: Michael Schumacher

1969: Born on January 3 in Huerth-Hermuelheim, Germany.

1973: Makes his racing debut in a karting event.

1987: Wins German and European kart championships.

1988: Finishes fourth in German Formula Ford championship and is second in the European series in his first year of car racing.

1990: Wins first major single-seater title, clinching the German Formula Three crown. Steps up to sportscars, driving for Mercedes.

1991: Makes Formula One debut for Jordan in Belgium, qualifying seventh before retiring. Poached by Benetton for the rest of the season.

1992: Takes first grand prix win in Belgium on his way to third in the championship.

1994: Wins title, with eight wins to his name, after controversial last-race clash with Damon Hill in Australia.

1995: Retains world crown, taking nine victories.

1996: Moves to struggling Ferrari and manages three wins on his way to third in the championship.

1997: Wins five races but is stripped of second in the championship for attempting to take out title rival Jacques Villeneuve at Jerez.

1999: Breaks his leg at Silverstone when easily leading the championship.

2000: Finally wins Ferrari's first drivers' title since 1979, amassing nine wins on the way.

Golden era: Schumacher enjoyed some ding-dong battles with British driver Damon Hill

2001: Another nine wins and another title, setting a new record for all-time victories.

2002: Wins championship in record time, setting a new mark of 11 victories.

2003: Wins title by a point after six victories, breaking Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five championships.

2004: Breaks his own record for wins in a season, 13, to take title number seven.

2006
September 10 – Announces his retirement at end of 2006 season after winning Italian Grand Prix.

2009
July 29 – Announces plans to make a shock return to F1 with Ferrari, deputising for Felipe Massa until the Brazilian recovers from injuries suffered in an accident in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Just champion: The German bought the glory days back to Ferrari

August 11 – Forced to abort comeback due to a neck injury sustained in a motorbike accident in February.

December 23 – Signs a three-year contract to drive for Mercedes GP, ending three years in retirement.

2010: Makes his return to F1 in Bahrain and finishes the season in ninth, with a highest finish of fourth.

2011: Betters his previous season with an eighth-placed finish and 96 points, with a fourth in Canada his best result.

2012: Returns to the podium for the first time since his retirement, finishing third in the European grand prix.

October 4: Announces he will be retiring from the sport at the end of the season.

Lewis Hamilton to leave McLaren and replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes

EXCLUSIVE: Hamilton to leave McLaren and replace Schumacher at Mercedes

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UPDATED:

22:41 GMT, 27 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton is poised to cut his ties with his boyhood team McLaren and replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, Sportsmail can reveal.

The German car giants will announce Schumacher’s second retirement at their headquarters in Stuttgart on Friday morning, with Hamilton about to replace him on a deal worth as much as 60million over three years.

Decision to make: McLaren star Lewis Hamilton's future remains unclear

Decision to make: McLaren star Lewis Hamilton's future remains unclear

It is understood that Hamilton, 27,
will earn a basic salary of 15m a year, with potential win bonuses
inflating his earnings. He will, therefore, maintain his status as one
of the grid’s top earners alongside Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, and Red
Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

Rollercoaster: Hamilton has had an up-and-down season at McLaren

Rollercoaster: Hamilton has had an up-and-down season at McLaren

But while money was important to
Hamilton — he is known to be careful with his finances — it was not the
governing factor in his decision. More important is his desire to
improve on a return of one title in five completed seasons.

Ross Brawn, the man behind
Schumacher’s dominance, is team principal at Mercedes and his presence
is sure to have been a major lure for the British driver.

Flashing the cash: Mercedes have tried to tempt Hamilton to their team

Flashing the cash: Mercedes have tried to tempt Hamilton to their team

Michael Schumacher given penalty after Jean-Eric Vergne crash

Schumacher slapped with 10-place grid penalty after crashing into Vergne

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UPDATED:

18:13 GMT, 23 September 2012

Michael Schumacher has been handed a 10-place grid penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix after smashing into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne in Sunday's race in Singapore.

Seven-times world champion Schumacher admitted liability for the accident that occurred just after the midway point of the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. It followed the restart after a safety car period for HRT's Narain Karthikeyan hitting a barrier across Anderson Bridge.

In what was a repeat of two previous incidents – one at this track last year and one earlier this season when Schumacher ran into the rear of Williams' Bruno Senna in Barcelona – the stewards decided to heavily penalise the 43-year-old for the next race in Japan.

Mistake: Schumacher was penalised for crashing into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne

Mistake: Schumacher was penalised for crashing into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne

Schumacher collected a five-place penalty for the subsequent race in Monaco after hitting Senna, one which saw him start sixth after he had set the fastest time in qualifying.

On this occasion, given it was a repeat offence, the punishment was doubled, with the stewards stating: 'The penalty takes into account this is the second similar offence by the driver this season.

'The driver admitted the collision was his error due to the failure to anticipate the braking performance of the car with lower grip following a safety car period.'

Carnage: Schumacher admitted guilt for the accident appearing to apologise to Vergne (below)

Carnage: Schumacher admitted guilt for the accident appearing to apologise to Vergne (below)

Carnage: Schumacher admitted guilt for the accident appearing to apologise to Vergne (below)

For his part, Schumacher said: 'It was obviously a very unfortunate ending to my race when I ran into the car of Vergne, who accepted my apology straight afterwards.

'I am not totally sure why it happened. I was braking, but the deceleration was not as strong as it usually would be and I could not avoid running into the car in front of me.

'We have to find out what happened. Up until then I think it would have been possible to get some points.'

Sorry: The veteran is facing a ten-place grid drop at the Japanese Grand Prix

Sorry: The veteran is facing a ten-place grid drop at the Japanese Grand Prix

As the two men climbed out of their cars, Mercedes driver Schumacher waited for Vergne to come across, immediately putting his arm around the Frenchman before they headed back to their respective garages.

Toro Rosso driver Vergne said: 'I was focussing on catching Perez at that point, trying to brake late to catch him, so I am not too sure what happened exactly.

'I assume Michael braked a bit too late and could not avoid running into me.

'There is no sense in being angry about it because these things happen in racing and even the most experienced driver on the grid can make mistakes. 'He said sorry and that's the end of it.'