Red Bull's Webber sets the pace in Japan
October 5, 2012 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
Red Bull's Australian driver Mark Webber is currently fifth in the 2012 F1 world championship.
- Mark Webber goes fastest in practice ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix
- The Australian beats off competition from Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel
- Current world championship leader Fernando Alonso is fifth fastest at Suzuka
- Qualifying will take place on Saturday ahead of Sunday's race
(CNN) -- Mark Webber set the fastest time in practice ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix as Red Bull dominated the session.
The Australian's time of one minute and 32.493 seconds was enough to see off McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who was second fastest.
Webber's teammate and double world champion Sebastian Vettel completed the top three on a satisfying day for the Austrian-owned marque.
Seven-time world champion Schumacher to retire
"It was a nice change to get some good weather; it's been the first dry weekend for a while," Webber, who is currently fifth in the world championship 62 points behind leader Fernando Alonso, told F1's official website.
Schumacher to retire from F1
How an F1 car talks
"It's a challenging venue in terms of balance here, but the car ran well and we tested both tyres. We have areas where we can improve, mostly with the balance, so we have some work to do."
For 2008 world champion Hamilton, it was the first time he had taken to the track since announcing he will join McLaren for Mercedes at the end of the season.
"I have the coolest job! Suzuka is such a phenomenal circuit!" said the 27-year-old Hamilton. "The first lap out of the pits felt great.
"Just driving through the first couple of corners and feeling the acceleration, it takes a few laps to get warmed up, but you keep getting faster and faster as you push the limits.
"I feel comfortable with our car -- it's the best that it's ever been around here -- and I think I could have matched Mark's fastest time with an optimal lap. It's going to be very close in qualifying tomorrow."
Ferrari's Alonso could only manage fifth but the Spaniard was relatively satisfied with his team's showing ahead of qualifying on Saturday.
"Generally a positive day, during which we managed to get through everything on the program," said Alonso.
"It's hard to say precisely where we are: what is certain is that many of our rivals seem to be competitive, but as usual, we must wait until tomorrow to get a clearer picture of the situation."
Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher, who confirmed on Thursday he will retire at the end of the season, had a less successful day, crashing out after losing control of his car at the Spoon curve, hitting a tyre barrier.
Part of complete coverage on
Relive the Formula One season as it progressed, circuit by circuit, race by race.
December 6, 2013 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Germany has only produced two Formula One champions -- and they can thank one man for spotting their nascent talent.
December 5, 2013 -- Updated 1049 GMT (1849 HKT)
Formula One's 83-year-old boss Bernie Ecclestone says Ferrari will have a big say in who replaces him -- but he's not going anywhere yet.
CNN's Amanda Davies travels to a small German town to discover the real Sebastian Vettel, F1's all-conquering champion.
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
A new era of F1 looms large on the horizon in 2014, but what do the new rules mean for how we watch the sport? Get up to speed here.
November 28, 2013 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Red Bull's four time world champion Sebastian Vettel lifts the lid on life out in front of the pack.
November 17, 2013 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
It is 5 a.m. on Sunday morning in Austin, Texas and the grid girls are already up and getting ready for the race.
November 12, 2013 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
There are books -- and then there are books. This one has been six years in the making and it doesn't come cheap.
October 24, 2013 -- Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wyatt explores the popularity of F1 in India and what the future might hold.
November 8, 2013 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
How would you feel if your boss asked you to lose weight so you could carry on doing your job? That is the reality facing Formula One drivers.
October 17, 2013 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Explore our interactive of one of F1's most important and complicated pieces of kit.
Kimi Raikkonen has long been box office gold, even before he re-signed with Ferrari for 2014, says CNN's Sarah Holt.
September 6, 2013 -- Updated 1627 GMT (0027 HKT)
Monza may be a long way from his birthplace in West Lothian, Scotland but Italy is unquestionably a home from home for Paul di Resta.
September 2, 2013 -- Updated 1514 GMT (2314 HKT)
McLaren follow founder Bruce McLaren's mantra by measuring life in "achievement not in years alone."
August 9, 2013 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Christina MacFarlane explores the role aerodynamics play in boosting a Formula One car's performance.
Today's five most popular stories