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Friday analysis - Singapore's star shines bright 26 Sep 2008

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4/23.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R28 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008 Red Bull Racing refuelling practice.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM01 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Singapore, Friday, 26 September 2008

Friday’s first-ever night time practice sessions were a voyage of discovery. As expected, running beneath floodlights instead of in natural daylight proved spectacular for spectators and trouble-free for the drivers - in the dry at least. In fact, none of them reported any visibility problems at all. More challenging was coping with the numerous bumps on Singapore’s Marina Bay circuit, the very high humidity, an ambient temperature of 28 degrees Celsius (despite the late hour) and just an hour between sessions instead of the usual two and a half. We take a team-by-team look at the early progress…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 45.518s, P1/1m 45.752s, P2
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 46.463s, P4/1m 45.797s, P4

Hamilton said he was quite happy with the way his day had gone, although his MP4-23 was bottoming over the bumps. He thought there was plenty of grip, however, which allowed him to brake late into the slower corners. He also reported that a good lap required twice the energy of a similar lap at Monaco. Kovalainen had a 360 degrees spin in the final corner in the first session, without sustaining any damage, but otherwise avoided trouble as he worked through his programme.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 46.725s, P7/1m 45.654s, P1
Nelson Piquet, 1m 47.175s, P9/1m 47.145s, P12

Alonso ran aggressively all day, which included missing the Turn 10 chicane at one point in the second session, and reported that the first day had gone well after setting the fastest time of that session. Piquet had an off in the Turn 18 escape road in the first session and spun in Turn 16 in the second, but was otherwise happy with the way his day went and recorded the most laps of any driver - 65.

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 45.598s, P2/1m 45.793s, P3
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 45.961s, P3/1m 46.580s, P7

Massa reported a positive day, with a car that handled well, especially on the soft tyre. Raikkonen loved his F2008’s balance and poise in the morning, but said the afternoon was wasted after a set-up change that did not have the desired effect. Switching back would simply have taken too much time, so he had to make the best of the car as it was.

Williams
Nico Rosberg, 1m 46.710s, P6/1m 46.164s, P5
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 47.662s, P12/1m 47.013s, P9

Rosberg said his pace all day left him feeling cautiously confident for the rest of the weekend, and that he was happy with his FW30’s balance thus far. Nakajima had some adventures, which included escape roads and later a brush with a wall in the second session.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 46.618s, P5/1m 46.384s, P6
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 46.964s, P8/1m 47.760s, P16

Kubica was happy to get to grips with the track straight away, and was able to complete his planned programme without problem. Heidfeld said much the same, while admitting that his time in the second session might not necessarily convey that impression.

Honda
Jenson Button, 1m 47.277s, P10/1m 46.901s, P8
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 48.725s, P16/1m 48.009s, P18

As Button starred, Barrichello had a poor day. The Englishman said he’d ‘had a strange day of testing tonight,’ which about summed up the paradox of a night race, and was particularly surprised by the heat given the late hour. He reported a largely positive day, but that he didn’t get the best from his last set of new tyres. The Brazilian was troubled a lot by his RA108 bottoming, and admitted that with the set-up he tried for the second session, following his crash in the first, he was largely a passenger.

Toyota
Timo Glock, 1m 47.706s, P13/1m 47.046s, P10
Jarno Trulli, 1m 49.064s, P19/1m48.059s, P19

Glock made the pace initially in the first session, and ended the second 10th even though he was not totally happy with his TF108. That left him a lot better off than Trulli, who was 19th in both sessions as he struggled to find a decent set-up for the bumps. To cap it all, he was fined 10,000 euros for going against the flow of the traffic into the pits, after spinning in the final corner in the first session.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 53.703s, P20/1m 47.137s, P11
David Coulthard, 1m 48.517s, P15/1m 47.640s, P15

Webber was a little embarrassed with his incident in Turn 18 after three laps of the first session, when the bumps put him in the wall. The team managed to get him out late into the second session, and he made amends with the 11th fastest time. Coulthard likened the track surface to the cobbled streets of Paris, and predicted a lot of incidents in the race.

Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 47.570s, P11/1m 47.300s, P13
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 48.097s, P14/1m 47.487s, P14

Both drivers struggled with their STR3s over the bumps, finding that the need to run relatively high ride heights reduced grip and balance. Vettel reported low grip and had a couple of excursions to prove how hard he was pushing.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 48.906s, P18/1m 47.965s, P17
Adrian Sutil, 1m 48.839s, P17/1m 48.311s, P20

Fisichella reported a normal day apart from a gearbox problem, but Sutil was troubled by bruised legs as his limbs made so much contact with the sides of the Force India’s monocoque over the numerous bumps.