As night fell over Singapore, Sebastian Vettel picked up his pace, setting the fastest time of the day during the second practice session. The Singapore Grand Prix will also run at night, the second time that Formula One cars will race under the...
As night fell over Singapore, Sebastian Vettel picked up his pace, setting the fastest time of the day during the second practice session. The Singapore Grand Prix will also run at night, the second time that Formula One cars will race under the lights.
Vettel's best time in the second session was 1:48.650, much faster than the times for the first session, which was run in the evening. He was fifth in that session, with a time of 1:50.614. The young Red Bull-Renault driver is still in a title fight with the Brawns, but desperately needs a victory this weekend to improve his chances.
The practice times overall were some three seconds slower than in 2008 on the reconfigured track layout, with the Turn 10 chicane now tighter and slower than before.
"We can see from the times that the track is a little bit slower here than it was last year, which is a shame because some of the faster corners are now not so quick, but overall the character has remained the same," Vettel explained. "It's a challenging track xad quite stop and go xad you don't experience as much G-force here as on other circuits, but there are a lot of bumps, which don't make your life easy."
Fernando Alonso likely wants to show that he deserved last year's Singapore GP victory in spite of the "crash-gate" scandal that saw Nelson Piquet crash his Renault in order to bring out the safety car: the Spaniard scored a fourth-fastest time in the first session, and then upped his Renault's pace in the second to set a time of 1:48.924, 0.274 seconds off the pace of Vettel.
"The track was very dirty and slippery in both the sessions," Alonso said. "(That) always makes it difficult to learn about the car and improve the balance and I had a lot of oversteer."
Both Renaults are largely sponsorship-free this weekend, with both ING Bank and Mutua Madrilena insurance having terminated their agreements early subsequent to the team being found guilty of race fixing by the FIA.
Heikki Kovalainen continued his strong performances of late, and claimed third position for McLaren-Mercedes in the second session with a 1:48.956, having been sixth in the first session.
The top three of the first session -- the Brawn twins of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button, plus Red Bull's Mark Webber -- fell back in the second session. Championship leader Button lost the least ground, taking fifth in the second session, behind resurgent BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld. Button's time 1:49.311 was 0.661 seconds off Vettel's pace, and 0.113 behind Heidfeld.
The Briton was not worried about the gap to Vettel, though: "We had a pretty full-on evening with a busy programme of set-up evaluations and tyre testing," he said. "The key is achieving consistently quick laps and that's what we've been working on today. The car feels reasonable and with some more work later tonight, we should be ready for a good weekend."
Webber managed to set the sixth-quickest time early in the second practice session; he might well have improved and caught up to his Red Bull teammate, but he lost control of his car in the final corner of the track early in the second session, ending the day early for him.
Nico Rosberg claimed seventh place for Williams-Toyota, 16 thousandths behind Webbber, the team hoping to be back on pace after a disastrous qualifying performance at the Italian Grand Prix.
Timo Glock's Toyota, Lewis Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes and Robert Kubica's BMW Sauber filled the rest of the top 10 positions on the timesheets. Rubens Barrichello, who stands second in the championship points standings, was eleventh fastest.
While Force India was further back in the field than their recent success might have led one to expect, the low-budget team was again outpacing the Ferrari works team. Adrian Sutil set the 12th-fastest time, two positions ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, although Vitantonio Liuzzi, int the second Force India, was outpaced by Giancarlo Fisichella, who moved from the upstart team to Ferrari from the previous Grand Prix.
With all the drivers still getting used to the changes and the track surface, it's certain that a lot of shuffling will happen tomorrow as the qualifying sessions begin.