Marina Bay Practice 1: Vettel shines brightest with Hamilton in his shadows

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 21 September 2012.

Sebastian Vettel leaves the pits at the start of FP1 in Singapore

Sep.21 (GP247) Sporting a twinkling helmet Sebastian Vettel did what he seldom does at the very start of a grand prix weekend, topping the timing screens at the end of the first session of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend at the floodlit Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 21 September 2012.Vettel’s best time of 1 minute 50.566 seconds in the Red Bull was only fractionally faster than Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren. Both drivers, previous winners on the streets of Singapore, sporting new look helmets for the event, with Vettel sporting a glittering design with flickering lights on the top area. Hamilton’s familiar yellow design design made way to a slick silver version.

Up next was Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button, followed by world championship points leader Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari. The pair were almost a second down on Vettel’s best.

Pastor Maldonado showed that the Williams could be a factor through the streets, with the fifth best time and fractionally faster than Mark Webber – another driver with a new look helmet.

Seventh and eighth were Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta respectively, Force India looking to keep up their tradition of showing strongly in the latter half of the season.

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20 makes a pit stop. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday 21 September 2012.

Daniel Ricciardo was ninth quickest in the Toro Rosso, with Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.

As appears to be their modus operandi in the first session of a grand prix weekend, neither Lotus was in the top ten. Kimi Raikkonen was 12th with Spa bad boy Romain Grosjean down in 15th – the Frenchman returning from his single race ban.

Also out of the top ten were the Mercedes duo with Michael Schumacher ending the session 14th and Nico Rosberg down in 18th. The Silver Arrows boys are either in serious trouble or were playing it very, very easy in FP1, although the two nearly had a coming together when Schumacher nearly rear-ended Rosberg early on in the session.

The ninety minutes session started on a damp track due to a mid-afternoon rain storm, but it dried rapidly and was dry by the halfway mark. Grip is likely to improve with just about every lap as the weekend progresses, as rubber is laid down.

Subbed by AJN.

Singapore Grand Prix, Practice 1 – Friday, 21 September 2012

Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:50.566 24
2 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:50.615 0.049 15
3 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:51.459 0.893 17
4 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:51.525 0.959 20
5 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:51.576 1.010 20
6 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:51.655 1.089 19
7 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:51.658 1.092 24
8 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:51.943 1.377 21
9 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:52.275 1.709 24
10 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:52.296 1.730 19
11 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:52.629 2.063 25
12 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:52.716 2.150 16
13 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:52.839 2.273 23
14 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:52.986 2.420 21
15 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:53.028 2.462 20
16 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:53.080 2.514 17
17 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:53.189 2.623 25
18 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:53.227 2.661 26
19 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:54.908 4.342 20
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:55.091 4.525 16
21 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:55.335 4.769 22
22 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:55.760 5.194 22
23 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:56.656 6.090 21
24 23 Qing Hua Ma HRT-Cosworth 1:58.053 7.487 20