Singapore GP: Preview and Friday Practice Report

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This weekend F1 heads to its one and only night race of the season on the streets of Singapore. The Marina Bay Street Circuit has a length of 5.073 km and have 23 turns (15 left and 8 right handed turns) was first used in 2008 for the first ever night race. That race was won by Renault’s Fernando Alonso, but later that race was surrounded by a race fixing scandal. This season, the kind of topsy turvy championship we are having where after every race a new points leader is seen in world championship standings, this race is very important because as it is a street circuit, every slightest mistake could result in a retirement and also a safety car period to follow. The circuit lap record is put by Kimi Raikkonen in 2008 who put a lap of 1:45.599 in a Ferrari. With the chances of rain are a bit higher then the previous 2 season, this race could well be a race of attraction.

The points table situation after the Italian GP is as follows:

Drivers:                    Constructors: 
 1.  Webber       187        1.  Red Bull-Renault          350
 2.  Hamilton     182        2.  McLaren-Mercedes          347
 3.  Alonso       166        3.  Ferrari                   290
 4.  Button       165        4.  Mercedes                  158
 5.  Vettel       163        5.  Renault                   127
 6.  Massa        124        6.  Force India-Mercedes       58
 7.  Rosberg      112        7.  Williams-Cosworth          47
 8.  Kubica       108        8.  Sauber-Ferrari             27
 9.  Schumacher    46        9.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         10
10.  Sutil         45
11.  Barrichello   31
12.  Kobayashi     21
13.  Petrov        19
14.  Hulkenberg    16
15.  Liuzzi        13
16.  Buemi          7
17.  De la Rosa     6
18.  Alguersuari    3

This race also sees 2 drivers for the first time racing this season, Nick Heidfeld for Sauber, and Christian Klien for HRT. Heidfeld is replacing Pedro De la Rosa while Klien is replacing SakonYamamoto.

During the Practice Session 1 on Friday drivers learn one thing specially that even if its not raining 1-hour before the start of the session it takes another hour for the standing water on the track to dry on the racing line but there was still puddle of water present off the racing line, it is quite important for the race as even if there was no rain before the race start but if the track is damp it would be quite difficult for racing on slicks and intermediate or wets will be needed for the race. As expected, Mark Webber of RedBull posted the fastest lap time in Practice Session 1 with 1:54.589 while Micheal Schumacher of Mercedes was 0.119 secs behind him and Adrian Sutil of Force India was on 3rd 0.238 secs down on Webber. At one point Michal was about to take the first top spot of this season after his return but Webber’s idea of changing to slicks in the last 15 minutes of one and half hour session worked in his favor and he gets the top spot and demotes Micheal from it. Virgin and Lotus give some track time to their reserve drivers Jerome D’Ambrosio and Fairuz Fauzi respectively.  Here are the first Session timings:

Singapore GP Practice Session 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 Session 2 starts on a dry track and through out, the session remains dry. This session sees the usual contenders back at the front and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel takes the top spot with a lap of 1:46.660 followed by his team mate, Webber on 2nd with only 0.627 secs behind and Jenson Button of McLaren with another 1.030 secs behind. The session saw Alonso retiring when he stalls his car after a mistake which cause him to go off the track and during his returning back to the track. He stalls as soon as he reaches the race and has to retire 20 minutes before the end of session. Lotus and Virgin returned with their normal racing line up for this session as Trulli and Lucas di Grassi returns for their respective teams.

During the second session Force India’s Adrian Sutil goes over the kerbs of the turn 10 and damages his car’s left front wishbone and returns to the pits with no steering for left front tyre. He got fined $10,000 for dangerous driving by the race stewards.

Adrian Sutil’s Force India flying over the kerbs

Here are the second Practice Session timings:

Singapore GP Practice Session 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

At the end of both sessions one thing is clear that RedBull is highly likely to take another pole this season which will take their pole tally for this season to 13 out of 15 races.

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