Friday, September 23, 2011

Sebastian Vettel leads Fernando Alonso in Singapore practice

Singapore Grand Prix

  • Venue: Marina Bay, Singapore
  • Date: 23-25 September
  • Coverage: Saturday 24 September: Third practice 1155-1305 BBC Red Button/BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online; Qualifying 1400-1630 BBC One/BBC Radio 5 live and online; Sunday 25 September: Singapore Grand Prix: 1210-1530 BBC One/Radio 5 live and online; F1 forum: 1530-1630, BBC Red Button/online; Highlights: 1900-2000 BBC Three
Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus
Singapore GP - first practice
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel beat Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to the pace in an incident-packed Friday practice at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Vettel, who can win the world title on Sunday if results go his way, was 0.201 seconds quicker than Alonso, who beat him into second place here last year.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was fastest in first practice but third in the second.
Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button missed half of the afternoon session after going off the track.
Button locked up his brakes heading into Turn 14 and had to take to the escape road after 40 of the 90 minutes.
Button was advised by his race engineer that he could engage reverse gear but he replied: "Not working", before climbing out and walking away, clearly annoyed at the turn of events.
Another man to push beyond the limits of the demanding, bumpy street track here was Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi.
The Swiss ran wide at the exit of the chicane before the final two corners on his run on the faster super-soft tyre, and clouted the wall, taking off his right front wheel and suspension.
Hamilton and Vettel swapped fastest times in the first session, with the Englishman emerging 0.406secs ahead.

We enjoy winning and I think we can be competitive, we have some new parts on the car, we have six races left and we'd like to win them
Martin Whitmarsh McLaren team principal
Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber was third fastest ahead of Alonso.
In the second session, Vettel set the pace from the outset, and after 40 minutes the German was a second faster than anyone else - with team-mate Mark Webber his closest pursuer, with Hamilton third.
Emphasising his superiority, at one point, Hamilton came on the radio to this team to ask: "Where are we?" He was told: "Red Bull 1.6secs quicker than us - most of the time to find is in the final sector."
At that point, Vettel was a massive 0.7secs ahead in the final section, which comprises seven mostly right-angled corners and the final two corners, taken as one double-apex left-hander.
That margin was reduced later on in the session, but Vettel and Red Bull appear to have an advantage over their rivals, particularly on single-lap qualifying pace.
However, Alonso's pace on his race-simulation run with a heavy tank of fuel late in the session was highly impressive and appeared at first glance to be faster than Vettel's.
The first session was delayed twice by problems with the circuit's kerbs, which came loose at several points around the track.
The session started 30 minutes later and was shortened to an hour after loose kerbs were found following a support race, and a recurrence caused a five-minute stoppage towards the end of the session, too.
Governing body the FIA removed the kerbs on the apex of Turn 13 in a successful effort to prevent the problem recurring in the second session.


  • 2010 - Fernando Alonso - Ferrari
  • 2009 - Lewis Hamilton - McLaren
  • 2008 - Fernando Alonso - Renault
However, race officials have admitted that they have work to do overnight to ensure the kerbs stay in place during qualifying and the race.
Although his rivals are resigned to the fact that Vettel will win the title sooner or later, Ferrari and McLaren are still determined to beat him as often as possible in the remaining six races.
McLaren have a new rear wing here, and Ferrari a new front wing as they continue to develop their cars.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: "We enjoy winning and I think we can be competitive, we have some new parts on the car, we have six races left and we'd like to win them.
"Both the drivers are motivated and I think we can do a decent job.
"Lewis is quite relaxed and I think he's very determined. He has had a difficult season, and he did everything he could to try to stay out of trouble at the last race.
"I told him that was a very disciplined drive but I would like the old Lewis back."