Free Practice 1
As the green light flickered on at the pitlane exit, the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen was the first to venture out on to the Marina Bay circuit. Having rained heavily some time prior to practice, intermediate tyres were the order of the early evening; however the track conditions were to change subtly as cars pounded around the Singapore track.
The track was not the only thing to change – Sakon Yamamoto had come down with “food poisoning” on Thursday night, leaving the Hispania team to announce former Red Bull and Jaguar driver, Christine Klien to drive in his place.
As announced the day after the Italian Grand Prix, Nick Heidfeld has replaced Pedro de la Rosa at the Sauber team for the rest of the season. Fairuz Fauzy also sat in for Jarno Trulli at Lotus, while Jerome d’Ambrosio made his Formula 1 weekend début at Virgin, becoming the 19th Belgian to pilot a top-level car at a competitive weekend.
Both Red Bull and McLaren showed up with various aerodynamic and suspension updates, with more expected in Japan (in two weeks). The updates would serve the Red Bull the most. With the track drying up late on, Mark Webber claimed the top spot ahead of the Mercedes of Michael Schumacher, while Sebastian Vettel ended up 4th on the time sheets. The McLaren’s were somewhat more conservative on track – Button eventually registered the 6th best time and Lewis Hamilton in 18th.
At Renault Robert Kubica was running the F-duct, while team mate Vitaly Petrov ran the regular rear wing – both ended up in the top ten with Petrov (10th) behind Kubica (9th); however the Pole ran very few laps.
Kamui Kobayashi spent much of the damp part of the session at the top of the standings, but he would eventually fall to 12th by the end of the first 90 minute run as the dry pace of the Sauber became more apparent.
Free Practice 2
Red Bull were on top in the second practice as well; this time, it was Sebastian Vettel that was fastest, with Mark Webber in 2nd; however the gap to the rest of the field was quite ominous. Webber, though, trailed Vettel by quite a gap – the Australian lodged a time that was 0.6 of-a-second behind his team mate. As the teams ran race weights later in the session, the Red Bulls remained the faster of the runners. Next up on the sheets was McLaren’s Jenson Button, a clear one second behind the Austrian cars and ahead of his team mate of Lewis Hamilton (5th).
On a fast lap, Fernando Alonso overshot the entry into turn 18, diverting his Ferrari into the escape road. The Spaniard reversed back onto the track, but stalled his car. He had previously set the 4th fastest time, but his off-track excursion ended his practice run prematurely.
Both Renault were using their F-duct during the session, but sadly for Robert Kubica, his car spent much of the session sidelined with hydraulic issues, leaving him stranded in 9th on the time sheets, but still ahead of his rookie team mate, Vitaly Petrov (14th). Timo Glock was having huge problems with his Virgin, as the German found his red and black machine severely unstable on exit of a number of corners – the search for balance going awry. However, Glock (20th) would still register a time 1.3 seconds faster than his under pressure team mate Lucas di Grassi.
The ‘Singapore Sling’ was altered slightly to spread the kerbs outs and it caught out Robert Kubica early on. Jaime Alguersuari and Fernando Alonso also had adventures over the high kerbs, but suffered quite as much as Adrian Sutil in his Force India.
The German driver entered the section far too fast, hopping the kerbs hard and getting a lift into the air. As he came down, the front left took the full brunt of the fall and the wheel was partially torn from its suspension mountings, leaving the Force India 16th and considerably damaged. Sutil carried on to the pits on three wheels – an act that landed him a $10,000 fine from the stewards.
Alguersuari also swiped the wall hard on the exit of turn 19, but managed to continue on for an extra lap, despite the huge hit his right rear suspension received. His Toro Rosso team mate, Sebastien Buemi also rubbed the wall, but not with as much force as his Spanish compatriot.
Singapore, 2nd Free Practice (September 24th)
1 VETTEL Red Bull 1m46.660s
2 WEBBER Red Bull 1m47.287s
3 BUTTON McLaren 1m47.690s
4 ALONSO Ferrari 1m47.718s
5 HAMILTON McLaren 1m47.818s
6 BARRICHELLO Williams 1m48.302s
7 MASSA Ferrari 1m48.341s
8 ROSBERG Mercedes 1m48.679s
9 KUBICA Renault 1m48.855s
10 SCHUMACHER Mercedes 1m48.889s
11 HULKENBERG Williams 1m49.153s
12 KOBAYASHI Sauber 1m49.438s
13 HEIDFELD Sauber 1m49.558s
14 PETROV Renault 1m49.608s
15 LIUZZI Force India 1m49.896s
16 SUTIL Force India 1m49.984s
17 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso 1m50.191s
18 BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m50.896s
19 KOVALAINEN Lotus 1m51.878s
20 GLOCK Virgin 1m52.150s
21 DI GRASSI Virgin 1m53.431s
22 TRULLI Lotus 1m53.526s
23 SENNA HRT 1m54.725s
24 KLIEN HRT 1m55.542s
Singapore, 1st Free Practice (September 24th)
1 WEBBER Red Bull 1m54.589s
2 SCHUMACHER Mercedes 1m54.708s
3 SUTIL Force India 1m54.827s
4 VETTEL Red Bull 1m55.137s
5 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso 1m55.160s
6 BUTTON McLaren 1m55.333s
7 LIUZZI Force India 1m55.510s
8 BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m55.523s
9 KUBICA Renault 1m55.672s
10 PETROV Renault 1m55.914s
11 ALONSO Ferrari 1m56.090s
12 KOBAYASHI Sauber 1m56.339s
13 HEIDFELD Sauber 1m56.458s
14 ROSBERG Mercedes 1m56.598s
15 KOVALAINEN Lotus 1m56.603s
16 BARRICHELLO Williams 1m56.615s
17 HULKENBERG Williams 1m56.840s
18 HAMILTON McLaren 1m56.884s
19 MASSA Ferrari 1m57.760s
20 GLOCK Virgin 1m59.034s
21 D’AMBROSIO Virgin 1m59.275s
22 SENNA HRT 1m59.783s
23 KLIEN HRT 2m03.424s
24 FAUZY Lotus 2m05.694s