Final practice abandoned at foggy Fuji

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FUJI, Japan, Sep 29 (Reuters) Fog forced organisers to abandon final practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix today after just four minutes of action at a rainsoaked Fuji circuit.

The hour long morning session had started 30 minutes late due to the medical helicopter being unable to get off the ground and was then promptly red-flagged after drivers had done little more than an installation lap.

Only Williams duo Alexander Wurz and Nico Rosberg, along with Toyota's Jarno Trulli, were able to set times before the helicopter was again grounded.

Qualifying for tomorrow's 15th round of the 17 race championship was due to start at 0500 GMT (1030 hrs ist). McLaren's Lewis Hamilton leads the standings, two points clear of double world champion team mate Fernando Alonso.

The Toyota-owned circuit, with a backdrop of Mount Fuji on a clear day, has taken over from Suzuka as the Japanese Grand Prix venue but is renowned for fickle weather.

The first Japanese Grand Prix at the circuit in 1976 started in torrential rain, with Ferrari's championship leader Niki Lauda pulling out after just one lap.

Bad weather also affected Suzuka in the past. Qualifying for the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix had to be postponed to the Sunday morning after a typhoon blew through.

REUTERS PDS RK1155

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