The two McLaren drivers were quickest in the first practice session at Suzuka.
Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to set a timed lap and headed the times sheets early in the session. Several drivers came close to beating his effort and Mark Webber eventually did, edging the McLaren by five hundredths of a second.
The other McLaren of Jenson Button left it until later in the session before setting his first time. A 1’34.507 put him on top. Hamilton improved shortly afterwards to put McLaren first and second in the times.
Webber ended the session third-quickest following by Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes driver pulled to a stop in the Esses moments before the end of the session with an apparent technical problem.
Michael Schumacher moved up to fifth late in the session, making it four Mercedes-powered cars in the top five.
Both Sauber drivers near lost control of their cars during the session. Kamui Kobayashi, sixth, had a moment of oversteer at the exit of Spoon Curve while Sergio Perez, 12th, got onto the run-off at 130R.
Felipe Massa was fastest for Ferrari in seventh, followed by the Force India pair and Pastor Maldonado.
Giedo van der Garde made his second appearance in an F1 practice session for Caterham and ended the session 23rd, over a second off team mate Vitaly Petrov.
2012 Japanese Grand Prix
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Image ?é?® McLaren/Hoch Zwei