Practice 2: Vettel top as Red Bulls show pace

Sebastian Vettel ended the first day in Singapore fastest of all

Sebastian Vettel ended the first day in Singapore fastest of all

Sep.24 (Grand Prix 247) The five contenders for the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship topped the five top spots on the timing screens at the end of the second free practice of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, setting the stage for a tremendous battle on the mean Marina Bay Circuit streets.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 24 September 2010.

Sebastian Vettel in the cockpit of the Red Bull Racing RB6

Sebastian Vettel, fifth in the title race, was fastest of all setting a stunning time of 1 minute 46.660 seconds which was way faster than anyone else. He set the time midway through the session and afterwards appeared to focus on race pace which was impressive too. Once again the Red Bull driver will be the man to beat, if the final session is anything to go by.

Second quickest, albeit over half a second adrift of his team mate, was Mark Webber who topped the timing screens in the first session. Thus on the opening day, as expected, the Marina Bay Circuit looks to be Red Bull territory.

A full second down on Vettel was Jenson Button who was third quickest and fastest of the McLaren Mercedes duo, with Lewis Hamilton fifth fastest. Both trying out a raft of updates during the two sessions on the day. The conditions and track appearing to suit Button’s less aggressive style at the wheel of the MP4/25.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 24 September 2010.

Lewis Hamilton gets airborne over the kerbs

While Hamilton, last year’s winner, seemed to be unleashing pent up aggression on track and invariably costing him time. The 2008 World Champion will want to replay his 2009 Singapore GP race winning movie to see how it should be done.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said, “The team that wins the championship will be the one that develops its car best and which makes fewest mistakes. It’s going to be tough, but we believe we can do it.”

Splitting the silver cars, fourth fastest, was the red Ferrari of Fernando Alonso who missed the final half of the session after parking his F10 after a couple of hairy “nearly hitting the wall” moments saw him take the escape road at Turn 17 and for some reason not able to continue despite no apparent damage to his car. Nevertheless the Spaniard will be content with the pace shown early on in the session.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 24 September 2010.

Fernando Alonso ended the session fourth quickest despite only doing half the session

Thus the five top guns of the 2010 F1 season were also best on the opening day in Singapore which is a good omen for fans who are likely to tune into the 15th episode of this incredible soap opera in record numbers on Sunday.

Almost a sideshow were the progress of others plying their trade through the floodlit streets of the Marina Bay Circuit.

Best of the rest was Rubens Barrichello who looked up for a brawl in the Williams setting the sixth best time after a session spent at the sharp end of the timing screens.

Next up was Felipe Massa who was not able to match the pace of his team mate on the opening day, which saw him end seventh best. Perhaps missing last year’s race, due to his head injury, has had its toll on the opening day for the Brazilian.

Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams FW32. Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 24 September 2010.

Rubens Barrichello was on fire in the final session of the first day

Nico Rosberg was eighth fastest in the Mercedes GP with seven times F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher tenth fastest on his first day at the Marina Bat Circuit, also fastest of all the first timers in Singapore.

Robert Kubica split the two Silver Arrows, setting the ninth fastest time in his Renault.

Of the two returnees, Nick Heidfeld and Christian Klien, it was the former who impressed in the Sauber. Heidfeld, who had not driven an F1 car in anger since the Abu Dhabi GP last year, was immediately on the pace and ended the first day back in the cockpit a mere 0.120 seconds adrift of his team mate Kamui Kobayashi.

Klien on the other hand, at the wheel of the woeful Hispania racing, was slowest of all and a whopping 8.8 seconds off Vettel’s pace.

Christian Klien (AUT) Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) HRTF1. Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 24 September 2010.

Christian Klien was back but slowest of all in the Hispania Racing

Heikki Kovalainen, 19th on the timing screens, was fastest of the new team drivers in his Lotus.

Just about everyone, including the big names, had a moment or two during the course of the session. Worst of all was Adrian Sutil who did some extreme kerb hopping, resulting in a Force India attempting to become Airforce India and the result a snapped front suspension with a dangling wheel. He tried gamely but in vain to return the wreck to the pits and thus ended what was looking like a good day for the German.

Free Practice 2 – Friday, 24 September 2010

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:46.660 29
2 6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:47.287 0.627 27
3 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.690 1.030 28
4 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:47.718 1.058 20
5 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.818 1.158 28
6 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:48.302 1.642 31
7 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:48.341 1.681 28
8 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:48.679 2.019 26
9 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:48.855 2.195 15
10 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:48.889 2.229 31
11 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:49.153 2.493 32
12 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:49.438 2.778 30
13 22 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:49.558 2.898 26
14 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:49.608 2.948 30
15 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:49.896 3.236 28
16 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:49.984 3.324 11
17 17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:50.191 3.531 31
18 16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:50.896 4.236 35
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:51.878 5.218 30
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:52.150 5.490 22
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:53.431 6.771 25
22 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:53.526 6.866 27
23 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:54.725 8.065 27
24 20 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:55.542 8.882 25