Friday, 26 September 2008

2008 Singapore Grand Prix: Friday Practice Sessions

This weekend sees the inaugural running of the Formula One Grand Prix of Singapore, and also sees the very first night race in F1 history. With heavy rain also predicted at some point over the weekend the race on the all new street circuit may well be one of the most challenging races of the season for the drivers and teams. The track is unfamiliar, the rain could make the roads of Singapore treacherous, and none of the drivers have experience of driving a Grand Prix car through floodlit heavy spray. Throw an incredibly close title race building up to its climax into the mix, and we may have a truly memorable race on our hands.

Whilst the whys and wherefores of Bernie Ecclestone's desire to hold a race under floodlights for the benefits of TV scheduling are still being debated, the fact remains that it is going to happen come what may. Using hundreds of high powered floodlights to light up the track does seem to fly in the face of F1's supposed commitment to promoting improved energy efficiency, but so far it seems to work well enough. The main concern has to of course be driver safety, and no drivers seem to have complained about poor visibility.

The one thing that did immediately cause some consternation amongst drivers are the newly nicknamed "tortoise-shell" bumps lining the kerbs at turn 10. They are there to prevent drivers cutting chicanes, a very hot topic in F1 today since Hamilton's misadventures in Belgium, but they are so high that a slight mistake would result in the car being trashed on the bumps and put out of the race. Charlie Whiting took heed of the team's and driver's concerns and ordered that the bumps be greatly reduced in size.

In first practice Lewis Hamilton set the early benchmark by finishing at the top of the timesheets, a fraction of a second ahead of title rival Felipe Massa. Raikkonen was third and Kovalainen fourth, but almost a full second behind team mate Hamilton. There were few surprises throughout the rest of the field, perhaps with the exception of Jenson Button who dragged his dog of a Honda into their first half-respectable position in months.

The brand new circuit did provide a fair few early thrills and spills. Mark Webber took the dubious honour of Christening the armco safety barriers after running wide and removing the right front corner of his car on the wall. A terrible start for the Aussie's weekend. It looks as though the very fast final corner could the one that grabs the headlines at this track. Heikki Kovalainen had a huge spin on the exit of the corner. Rubens Barrichello had an even bigger spin mid-corner and ended up going backwards into the safety barriers.

However, the biggest talking point of the session was provided by Jarno Trulli. He spun out on the final corner and was left stationary, facing backwards on the racing line. Naturally he got himself out of the way as soon as possible, but chose to do this by driving for about 20-30 metres IN THE WRONG DIRECTION down the pit straight, then turning around back into the pit lane. In doing so he broke one of the golden rules of race driving - NEVER drive the wrong way on the circuit. Trulli landed himself a $10,000 fine for his misdemeanour; not very dignified for one of the veteran members of the GPDA.

Practice One Times

01 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:45.518 20 laps
02 F. Massa Ferrari 1:45.598 23 laps
03 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:45.961 24 laps
04 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:46.463 20 laps
05 R. Kubica BMW 1:46.618 23 laps
06 N. Rosberg Williams 1:46.710 25 laps
07 F. Alonso Renault 1:46.725 29 laps
08 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:46.964 24 laps
09 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:47.175 30 laps
10 J. Button Honda 1:47.277 30 laps
11 S. Vettel Toro Rosso 1:47.570 28 laps
12 K. Nakajima Williams 1:47.662 23 laps
13 T. Glock Toyota 1:47.706 27 laps
14 S. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:48.097 16 laps
15 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:48.517 23 laps
16 R. Barrichello Honda 1:48.725 19 laps
17 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:48.839 24 laps
18 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:48.906 25 laps
19 J. Trulli Toyota 1:49.064 29 laps
20 M. Webber Red Bull 1:53.703 4 laps

The second practice session saw much of the same kind of action as the first, with McLaren and Ferrari drivers trading blows at the top of the timesheets. It looked for the majority of the session that Hamilton would again be pipping Felipe Massa to the P1 spot. That was until Fernando Alonso sprung a major surprise by taking the Friday honours with a fine lap in the dying seconds of the session.

Kovalainen was third this time out, with compatriot Raikkonen down in seventh. Not a great day for the World Champion, as he continues to look second best to Massa in the Ferrari team. Kimi was fractionally ahead of Button who again impressed in eighth place. Jenson in due a good drive, as he has seemed pretty lacklustre in recent months. Motivation must be pretty tricky when the team has so clearly just given up on this season, but he still needs to show he's out their fighting regardless. The only other talking point of the session was Timo Glock spinning and taking the nose off his Toyota.

Practice Two Times

01 F. Alonso Renault 1:45.654 30 laps
02 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:45.752 28 laps
03 F. Massa Ferrari 1:45.793 31 laps
04 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:45.797 31 laps
05 N. Rosberg Williams 1:46.164 34 laps
06 R. Kubica BMW 1:46.384 36 laps
07 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:46.580 25 laps
08 J. Button Honda 1:46.901 32 laps
09 K. Nakajima Williams 1:47.013 32 laps
10 T. Glock Toyota 1:47.046 22 laps
11 M. Webber Red Bull 1:47.137 15 laps
12 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:47.145 35 laps
13 S. Vettel Toro Rosso 1:47.300 33 laps
14 S. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:47.487 24 laps
15 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:47.640 31 laps
16 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:47.760 36 laps
17 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:47.965 12 laps
18 R. Barrichello Honda 1:48.009 25 laps
19 J. Trulli Toyota 1:48.059 28 laps
20 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:48.311 36 laps

1 comment:

Savan nah said...

Everyone is waiting for incredibly close title race building up to its climax into the mix, and then having a truly memorable race in front of us.

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