Toyota’s Jarno Trulli set the fastest time in Saturday’s final practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix.
The Italian, who is likely to be released by the team at the end of the season and is auditioning for a 2010 contract, set a time of 1 minute, 31.709 seconds around the Suzuka circuit.
After Friday’s rain-sodden sessions, Saturday’s practice was run on a dry track, giving drivers a first chance to test their cars in the conditions that are forecast for Sunday’s race.
Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi was second fastest in a surprisingly strong showing by the Swiss driver, who has not qualified higher than 10th for any race in his debut season.
Williams’ Nico Rosberg again demonstrated his good practice pace to be third quickest.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was fourth on the time sheets. The German still retains a slim drivers’ title chance and must have a strong performance here while relying on poor results for the two Brawn GP drivers ahead of him in the standings.
Championship leader Jenson Button was ninth best in Saturday practice, two places below Brawn GP teammate and title challenger Rubens Barrichello.
Button leads Barrichello by 15 points with three races remaining. He can clinch the title here by getting five points more than the Brazilian.
Brawn is also poised to secure the constructors’ championship. Red Bull must collect at least seven more points than Brawn in Sunday’s race to remain in mathematical contention.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fifth fastest despite the team not having updated its car since the Italian Grand Prix, as it puts all its resources into the 2010 model. Raikkonen too is on the lookout for a new team after being ousted from Ferrari to make way for Fernando Alonso next year.
Force India’s Adrian Sutil was sixth quickest and McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen eighth.