F1

Vettel, Red Bull dominate Singapore practice

Vettel, Red Bull dominate Singapore practice

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber demonstrated Red Bull's dominance in Singapore night practice on Friday, outdistancing their competition in preparation for Sunday night's Formula One race on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. "The most important...

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber demonstrated Red Bull's dominance in Singapore night practice on Friday, outdistancing their competition in preparation for Sunday night's Formula One race on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. "The most important thing is to have a clean Friday and we had no problem with the car today," commented Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing checking the timing tower during the first practice.
Photo by xpb.cc.

With their middle-of-the-road performance at Monza two weeks ago, where Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and his Red Bull team mate, Mark Webber in sixth position, both drivers resumed their normal slots at the top, by the end of second practice today. Defending World Champion, Jenson Button maintained his good form from the Italian Grand Prix, and made a promising start in practice, with a third place finish ahead of Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.

When the cars took track around the Marina Bay Circuit, it was Webber who impressed at the end of first practice. However, his team mate, Vettel soon swapped places with him in second practice, to snatch the lead and head the top of the timesheets. The German recorded a lap time of 1:46:660s, making him a full second faster than the rest of the field. His decision to go for the option super soft tyre clearly paid off, and experimenting with the fuel load, also made way for the positive outcome.

Vettel seemed pleased with the way today's session went for him.

"I think it could be interesting tomorrow or on Sunday if we get some rain. It doesn't mean so much to be P1 today, as it's only practice and there are no points available, but it's still good to be on top and we have good pace. The weather may bring a surprise though."

Jenson Button proved to be quite a threat to Red Bull after flying round the track in 1:47:690s, but the Mclaren driver followed behind in third position after the second session finished. The Briton did appear as if he may spoil the party at the top for Webber and Vettel, but he still seemed to struggle for pace in his car to chase them down.

Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"We got some reasonable running during P2, and the car is working quite well. There are still some improvements we need to make, but I feel comfortable with it. We saw today that, after it rains, the track doesn't dry very quickly, and a lot of water comes up through the circuit. It's pretty tricky - it's difficult to see which parts of the track are wet because of the glare. Hopefully, we won't have any more rain this weekend, because wet conditions aren't the nicest to drive in."

Meanwhile, the Ferrari driver and race winner at Monza, Alonso, had a miserable end to his day, in preparation for the Singapore Grand Prix. The Spaniard did give Vettel a run for his money early on in second practice, by taking seconds off the German's first sector time, and achieving a personal best in the middle section. Disaster soon struck for Alonso at Turn seventeen, which caused him to make an early exit, twenty minutes before the session was over. He ran wide at that point and slid down the escape road of Turn eighteen and off the track. In an attempt to rescue himself from the situation, Alonso reversed back onto the circuit, and proceeded to stall once there. His session was not a complete write off, as he did manage to keep his fourth place.

Alonso was disappointed with the way things went, he was looking to on good form today after the early fast laps he produced.

"I braked a bit late at turn 18 and ended up in the escape road: I selected reverse, but when I then selected first gear to get going again, the car stopped. It's a shame, because I lost the final twenty minutes of the session, the part when I was due to run with a heavy fuel load."

His final result means that he sits in a McLaren sandwich, with Button ahead and Lewis Hamilton in fifth place.

Rubens Barrichello had a good run, and had a solid finish for Williams in sixth position, just ahead of the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa. Nico Rosberg was eighth in his Mercedes, and Robert Kubica managed ninth for Renault, despite his car suffering with hydraulic problems. Michael Schumacher took the last top ten spot in the sister Mercedes. The German was followed closely behind, by Barrichello's team mate, Nico Hulkenberg.

Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Of the outsiders lining up the rest of the field, it was Japanese driver, Kamui Kobayashi who landed twelfth place for Sauber, ahead of temporary team mate, and former BMW driver, Nick Heidfeld, who returns to Formula One to take the place of Pedro De La Rosa. Vitaly Petrov in the other Renault, took fourteenth place from Vitantonio Liuzzi in his Force India.

Liuzzi's team mate, Adrian Sutil was among the few drivers, who spent more time off the track rather than on it. After just about keeping things together, when he nearly went off, the German then lost his grip and on Turn ten had a slight mishap, and this resulted in a left front broken suspension on his car. Due to the problems he experienced, Sutil then ended up quite far down in sixteenth position.

He was in close company with the Toro Rosso driver, Jaime Alguersuari, who brushed the wall in first practice and suffered damage to his left rear tyre. The Spaniard lines up next to team mate, Sebastian Buemi, who finished in eighteenth place.

The ongoing battle at the back of the grid with the new teams is still very competitive, and once again it appears that Lotus are the ones to beat. Heikki Kovalainen pipped the Virgin Racing driver, Timo Glock to nineteenth position, with the sister Virgin of Lucas Di Grassi in twenty-first place. Jarno Trulli in the other Lotus was next, alongside Bruno Senna for Hispania Racing. Christian Klien takes Sakon Yamamoto's seat on a temporary basis in the other Hispania car. Yamamoto is currently out of action behind the wheel, due to a bout of food poisoning. Klien is not an unfamiliar face in the Formula One paddock, as he first entered the sport in 2004 with Jaguar, and was team mate to Mark Webber then.

When qualifying gets underway tomorrow, it seems that the Red Bull drivers, of Vettel and Webber, will be the ones to watch closely. Although they could have a tough fight on their hands from some of the other front runners, who could make it a very exciting session, as one of them will grab the top spot ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.

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