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Red Bull Tops Time Sheets in Singapore P1 and P2

Red Bull's Mark Webber in Singapore

Practice got underway at Singapore today for the sole night race currently on the F1 schedule.  It looks as though weather will play a part all weekend, although the good news (or the bad, depending on how you feel about wet races) is that the the showers are most likely to fall during daylight hours, and not during the evening.  Qualifying and the race will probably take place on a damp but drying track.

There were few surprises in either of today’s practice sessions.  The Red Bulls led both sessions, with Mark Webber quickest in P1 and Sebastian Vettel quickest in P2.  P1 saw a mix-up in the expected running order, primarily due to track conditions, which were becoming increasingly dry as the session progressed.  Michael Schumacher was second quickest in the session, a position in which he hasn’t been seen during his comeback season.

In P2 however, the usual suspects filled the top spots, with the top five positions being filled by the top five title contenders in the current points standings.  What was most notable about the P2 times was the fact that the Red Bulls were a full second clear of their closest rivals.  The next three drivers on the time sheets, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, were all covered by a bit more than a tenth of a second.  While both McLaren and Ferrari had made claims that they might be on a par with the Red Bulls this weekend, if the P2 times are any indication, the Woking and Maranello squads were simply being optimistic.

There were a few complaints about the track today.  Lewis Hamilton hasn’t pulled his punches, roundly criticizing the circuit;s chicane, which has been revamped for this year’s race.  During P2 he could be seen taking a flyer over the chicane curbs on at least one occasion.

“The chicane is probably the worst corner I’ve ever driven in Formula 1,” the McLaren pilot told Autosport. “I mean, it’s just ridiculous. Last year was already small, but now it’s just more dangerous. We saw one car take off already, I think Adrian Sutil. You approach that corner at 160 mph and you have to brake down. If something goes wrong or someone’s brakes fail and hits one of those kerbs, we are going to see a nasty accident.”

Hamilton’s team mate, Jenson Button, had more difficulty with a different part of the course.  “Turn 5 for me is the biggest issue,” said Button. “They resurfaced it and it’s very negative camber so you turn in and you lose the rear end and it feels pretty uncontrollable.  It’s a pretty tough corner, especially because the water is still in the asphalt there.”

The comeback kid, Michael Schumacher, was a bit more sanguine about the track, on which he’s racing for the first time.  He noted that the Mercedes seemed to be somewhat flattered by the damp.  “When it was mixed conditions, we looked quite strong,”  he said.

Moreover, he expressed his pleasure at driving on the circuit, and only had slight reservations about the general course layout  “It has been interesting and I enjoyed driving here,” Schumi said. “It was the first time for me in these conditions and at this circuit and it was good fun. There is one section of track that is a bit bumpy, but the rest of it is very good.”

Practice 1

Pos  Driver         Team                   Time              Laps
1.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault        1:54.589            10
2.  Schumacher     Mercedes                1:54.708  + 0.119   24
3.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1:54.827  + 0.238   15
4.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault        1:55.137  + 0.548   12
5.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:55.160  + 0.571   20
6.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:55.333  + 0.744   12
7.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes    1:55.510  + 0.921   15
8.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:55.523  + 0.934   15
9.  Kubica         Renault                 1:55.672  + 1.083   11
10.  Petrov         Renault                 1:55.914  + 1.325   20
11.  Alonso         Ferrari                 1:56.090  + 1.501   12
12.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari          1:56.339  + 1.750   22
13.  Heidfeld       Sauber-Ferrari          1:56.458  + 1.869   18
14.  Rosberg        Mercedes                1:56.598  + 2.009    8
15.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth          1:56.603  + 2.014   12
16.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1:56.615  + 2.026   17
17.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth       1:56.840  + 2.251   14
18.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes        1:56.884  + 2.295    9
19.  Massa          Ferrari                 1:57.760  + 3.171   22
20.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth         1:59.034  + 4.445   19
21.  D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth         1:59.275  + 4.686   16
22.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth            1:59.783  + 5.194   23
23.  Klien          HRT-Cosworth            2:03.424  + 8.835   17
24.  Fauzi          Lotus-Cosworth          2:05.694  + 11.105  11

Practice 2

Pos  Driver         Team                    Time              Laps
1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault        1:46.660            29
2.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault        1:47.287  + 0.627   27
3.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes        1:47.690  + 1.030   28
4.  Alonso         Ferrari                 1:47.718  + 1.058   20
5.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes        1:47.818  + 1.158   28
6.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       1:48.302  + 1.642   31
7.  Massa          Ferrari                 1:48.341  + 1.681   28
8.  Rosberg        Mercedes                1:48.679  + 2.019   26
9.  Kubica         Renault                 1:48.855  + 2.195   15
10.  Schumacher     Mercedes                1:48.889  + 2.229   31
11.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth       1:49.153  + 2.493   32
12.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari          1:49.438  + 2.778   30
13.  Heidfeld       Sauber-Ferrari          1:49.558  + 2.898   26
14.  Petrov         Renault                 1:49.608  + 2.948   30
15.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes    1:49.896  + 3.236   28
16.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    1:49.984  + 3.324   11
17.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:50.191  + 3.531   31
18.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari      1:50.896  + 4.236   35
19.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth          1:51.878  + 5.218   30
20.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth         1:52.150  + 5.490   22
21.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth         1:53.431  + 6.771   25
22.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth          1:53.526  + 6.866   27
23.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth            1:54.725  + 8.065   27
24.  Klien          HRT-Cosworth            1:55.542  + 8.882   25

Image by f1photos.org, licensed through Creative Commons.

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