Practice 1: Hamilton fastest as Vettel chases

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton fastest in the opening practice session of the Singapore GP weekend

Sep.23 (PVM) Lewis Hamilton topped the timing screens at the end of the first free practice of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, ahead of reigning (and wannabe double) world champion Sebastian Vettel in a problematic first session at Marina Bay Circuit.

Repairs are made to the kerbs.

Repairs are made to Marina Bay Circuit kerbs

Track damage, caused during a support race, needed to be repaired causing a half hour delay before the Formula 1 boys were unleashed on track, which also meant thirty minutes less of track time.

Nevertheless, it was clear from the moment serious lap times were set that it would be a three team battle for top spot with McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari slugging it out – and when the flag dropped to end the session, the six drivers from these three teams hogged the top half dozen spots on the timing sheets.

Hamilton clocked the best time of 1 minute 48.599 seconds, which was 0.405 seconds up on Vettel who in turn was over a second up on team mate Mark Webber.

Two times winner Fernando Alonso was next up in fourth, albeit almost two seconds down on Hamilton’s best.

Jenson Button ended the session fifth fastest over two seconds down on his table topping McLaren team mate.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia.

Fernando Alonso leaves the pits

Slowest of the ‘big team’ sextet was Felipe Massa.

Apart from the delay, the session had a fair share of niggles and a red flag period very near the end.

Early drama started when an impatient Webber clipped the left rear of Timo Glock’s Virgin when trying to squeeze past.

“I don’t know what happened,” Glock admitted to his team on the radio.

Less than five minutes later the brakes on Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus developed a case of spontaneous combustion, both front disks bursting into flames and invariably bringing back memories of the Finn’s fire-fighting antics last year at the same venue.

Lotus team principal Mike Gascoyne on Twitter: “Front brakes were running hot on Heikkis car so when he went straight on overheated and caught fire.”

Late in the session Massa went over one of the numerous temporary kerbs that line the street circuit, only problem a retaining bolt had somehow surfaced and ripped the Ferrari’s diffuser. Red flag to deal with the situation.

Session resumed with three minutes to go which delivered some feisty, if brief, action before the chequered flag waved to end the session.

Ferrari summed up practice session one on Twitter: “The delayed start and some other problems made this session very difficult and even more inconclusive than usual. Now we need to revise FP2 programme to see how we can recover the time lost in the first session.” Ditto their rivals…

Friday, 23 September – Practice 1

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.599 10
2 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:49.005 0.406 15
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:50.066 1.467 16
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:50.596 1.997 11
5 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:50.952 2.353 12
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:52.043 3.444 14
7 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:52.251 3.652 13
8 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:52.416 3.817 12
9 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:52.435 3.836 13
10 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:52.815 4.216 13
11 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:52.991 4.392 17
12 19 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:53.050 4.451 17
13 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:53.399 4.800 18
14 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:53.703 5.104 19
15 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:53.749 5.150 12
16 9 Bruno Senna Renault 1:53.765 5.166 17
17 18 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:53.785 5.186 16
18 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:54.736 6.137 8
19 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:54.821 6.222 9
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1:56.198 7.599 8
21 25 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:57.798 9.199 13
22 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:58.792 10.193 6
23 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1:59.169 10.570 17
24 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:59.214 10.615 18