Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
Sebastian Vettel improved one place compared to today’s first practice and was quickest for Red Bull Racing during the second practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix this evening. The German topped the time sheets with a lap of 1m46.374s. Fernando Alonso was the fastest of the Ferrari drivers and took second place, 0.201s slower than Vettel. Lewis Hamilton was again the quickest McLaren driver and took third place with a lap of 1m47.115s.
As a result of the shortened first practice drivers took to the track quite early to make up for the lost time and to gather as much data as they could. First to record a time on the soft compound was Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi who set the early benchmark at 1m51.093s. Not much later Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi and Paul di Resta joined the Japanese in the top five, but after both Ferrari drivers Alonso and Felipe Massa had completed their first run, it was Alonso who took first position with a time of 1m49.071s.
The problems with the kerbs hadn’t been entirely solved and according to the FIA at Turn 13 the kerbstones had been removed entirely. After ten minutes it was Massa who was the first to brush the wall after running wide at Turn 12, and he would not be the only one who had a close encounter with the walls that line the Marina Bay circuit. The kerbs at Singapore still posed problems and many drivers made a few jumps over the kerbs causing slight damage to the front wing and floor of the car.
Jenson Button was the first McLaren driver on track for a run on the softs but had to abort his run after he ran into traffic. Traffic was not a problem for Vettel, who improved his fastest time again with a lap of 1m47.688s. His team mate Mark Webber closely followed and took second place at the time. Meanwhile Hamilton had returned to the garage and mechanics were working on his car to get it ready for his second run.
Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli were also early on track; Kovalainen’s car had been fixed after the brakes had caught fire in the first session. Some 30 minutes into the session Alguersuari launched his car on the kerbs of Turn 10 but was able to continue his run. Hamilton was back on the circuit but also had problems getting through the tight narrow hairpins and the 2008 champion ran wide several times before he took third place with a lap of 1m48.906s.
Also di Resta ran into problems and had to return to the pits to check for damage. Next to have a close inspection of the wall at Turn 12 was Kobayashi, Button was the next victim of the notoriously difficult street circuit and ran wide at Turn 14 and almost crashed into the barrier. He stopped just in time, but could not get his car in reverse gear and the Briton had to abandon his McLaren while marshals tried to remove his car. Not a good day for the Briton and he ultimately finished the day in 10th place, 3.377s off the pace.
At the halfway point with 45 minutes to go it was now time to test the supersoft compound, the tyres preferred for the race on Sunday. Alguersuari was the first to complete a run on the supersofts, but disappointingly didn’t get further than seventh place at the time and returned to the garage. Massa did a lot better and lapped the circuit in 1m47.120s, the new time to beat.
Kobayashi was next to get launched at the Singapore Sling chicane, a chicane that seemed to be a very popular place to get things all wrong. Next victim was Buemi who stopped after he had hit the wall and damaged his front suspension and the Swiss driver had no other choice than to retire. His car was quickly removed and with most drivers now on the supersofts, lap times quickly went down and Alonso lowered the benchmark to 1m46.575s.
Next to quit was Alguersuari who apparently had sustained some damage earlier on and his car stayed in the garage as it couldn’t be fixed in time. One hour into the session and Vettel took first place with 1m46.374s, which later proved to be the fastest time of the day. Webber tried to improve his time but stayed 2nd at the time, while Hamilton tried to improve his time on his second run, but couldn’t as he ran into traffic and had to abort his attempts several times. He finally was able to put a fast lap together and scored third fastest time.
With 20 minutes to go it was time for Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg to go out again, as they had slipped down the order, Rosberg was 14th and Schumacher 18th. Also on track were both Ferraris, Alonso was checking his race pace with fully topped-off fuel tanks, Hamilton did the same and Webber soon followed to test the race pace of his Red Bull. With just eight minutes to go di Resta was still in the garage hoping his car he had damaged earlier would be ready before the chequered flag would be waved, he had to wait and wait and joined the rest of the pack with just two minutes to go, but nevertheless managed to take possession of 13th place. Adrian Sutil, in the second Force India, again impressed and finished in a solid seventh spot.
As all drivers were now testing their car with a full fuel load, times did not improve and thus Vettel took first place with a time he had set 30 minutes earlier, and to top off the result, he was also fastest with full fuel tanks. Alonso finished the second practice session in second, and Hamilton in third place.
Behind them Massa and Webber took fourth and fifth place respectively, while Schumacher impressed with the sixth fastest time, Rosberg apparently couldn’t put a fast lap together and finished in 15th position. Behind Sutil both Saubers of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi finished in eighth and ninth place, while Button rounded out the top ten. Alguersuari was 11th while Buemi took 19th spot after his crash.
Number 12 was Bruno Senna in the Lotus Renault, and behind di Resta other Lotus Renault driver Vitaly Petrov took 14th place. Both Williams drivers were equally fast but Rubens Barrichello took 16th place, just 0.043s faster than Pastor Maldonado who was 17th. Kovalainen was once again the fastest of the newest teams and took his green-yellow Lotus to 18th place, while Trulli landed 20th place behind Buemi.
Timo Glock and Jerome d’Ambrosio were 21st and 22nd for Marussia Virgin and finally Daniel Ricciardo and Vitantonio Liuzzi were 23rd and 24th for HRT.
Both practice sessions showed it will not be easy for drivers to stay out of the wall at the Marina Bay circuit tomorrow and on race day, nor will it be easy to not jump the kerbs that have given so many drivers a lot of headaches today, especially at the Singapore Sling chicane the kerbs are high and very unhealthy for the cars, some damage to the floor or the diffuser can easily mean the end of the race.
Stay tuned to Motorsport.com for tomorrow’s qualifying session and the race on Sunday, which without a doubt will become a night spectacle worth watching.