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Friday analysis - normal service resumed at Red Bull? 24 Sep 2010

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 24 September 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 24 September 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 24 September 2010 Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams FW32.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 24 September 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice Day, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 24 September 2010

A track that was still damp in places, where it had been resurfaced, kept the times slow in the first Singapore session on Friday, and it remained slippery in the second as oil seeped through that new surface. It was enough to keep most teams guessing through the 180 minutes of running time. One thing that was clear was that Red Bull, back in more comfortable high-downforce territory, seem to have rediscovered some serious speed. We take a team-by-team look at the early running at Marina Bay…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 55.137s, P4/1m 46.660s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 54.589s, P1/1m 47.287s, P2

Vettel got his wish of a clean Friday, which he deemed beforehand to be the most important thing. He was very, very quick. Webber wasn’t quite so quick but said he had a pretty good day and that he needed to work on his short run performance a bit more. Both drew great satisfaction from the fact that nothing had changed in their performance advantage despite the FIA tightening the rules on aero component flexibility.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 55.333s, P6/1m 47.690s, P3
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 56.884s, P18/1m 47.818s, P5

Button said it was tough driving round when there was glare from the standing water, but was relatively pleased with his day as he and Hamilton tried a new front wing and the Mk 2 version of the team’s blown diffuser. Hamilton said he was more optimistic of challenging Red Bull tomorrow, having sat out much of the first session waiting for the track to improve, but also complained that the new kerbs made the chicane even more dangerous.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 56.090s, P11/1m 47.718s, P4
Felipe Massa, 1m 57.760s, P19/1m 48.341s, P7

Alonso was quick in the first session, but went too fast into Turn 18 and had to take to the escape road in session two. When he selected reverse, however, the engine stalled so his running time was over. He thought his sector times were competitive, however. Massa tried several configurations through the day, trying his F10 with and without its F-duct. When he tried the soft Bridgestones he encountered too much oversteer, while the harder compounds took too long to warm up.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 56.615s, P16/1m 48.302s, P6
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 56.840s, P17/1m 49.153s, P11

Again Williams were well up as Barrichello and Hulkenberg checked out a new front wing, and the Brazilian also tried a new diffuser. He reported that both items worked well on a productive day. Both drivers are optimistic for a good weekend, though Hulkenberg will be forced to drop five places on the grid due to an uncheduled gearbox change.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 56.598s, P14/1m 48.679s, P8
Michael Schumacher, 1m 54.708s, P2/1m 48.889s, P10

For a while in the first session it looked like the old days as Schumacher set the pace while learning the circuit. But at the end of the day, however, Rosberg was, as usual, the faster Mercedes driver. Both reported problems getting the grip they expected from the softer Bridgestone tyre.

Renault
Robert Kubica, 1m 55.672s, P9/1m 48.855s, P9
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 55.914s, P10/1m 49.608s, P14

Kubica said he had a leak in his R30’s hydraulics in the second session, when the track was at his best, and as a result only completed five clean laps. Petrov had a learning day and admitted to a mistake on his best lap.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 56.339s, P12/1m 49.438s, P12
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 56.458s, P13/1m 49.558s, P13

New territory for both drivers: Kobayashi had never been here before, and Heidfeld hadn’t experienced the BMW Sauber C29 or Bridgestone’s 2010 tyres. Kobayashi admitted to making a few mistakes, while Heidfeld said he was very happy to be back and with the way things went. Everything went to plan apart from the need to replace some new hydraulic components on both cars.

Force India
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 55.510s, P7/1m 49.896s, P15
Adrian Sutil, 1m 54.827s, P3/1m 49.984s, P16

Liuzzi said his car felt well balanced and was fast on the hard tyre and high fuel, but that he lost his soft tyre runs to HRT traffic. Sutil broke his left front suspension after aviating over the second chicane kerb. He was subsequently fined $10,000 for not pulling off the track quickly enough and for endangering spectators, marshals and other drivers. The VJM03s will be upgraded tomorrow, with new front wings and bodywork.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 55.160s, P5/1m 50.919s, P17
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 55.523s, P8/1m 50.896s, P18

Alguersuari reported a positive start to his weekend, apart from gently touching the wall in Turn 19 with his left rear tyre. Buemi said he had a problem-free day, which included further work on the F-duct seen in Monza.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 56.603s, P15/1m 51.878s, P19
Jarno Trulli (second session), 1m 53.526s, P22
Fairuz Fauzy (first session), 2m 05.694s, P24

Kovalainen did a fine job for Lotus in the first session, and was quite happy in the afternoon. Fauzy did a caretaker job on his run in Trulli’s car, but the Italian was unhappy with its balance in the afternoon.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 59.034s, P20/1m 52.150s, P20
Lucas di Grassi (second session), 1m 53.431s, P21
Jerome d’Ambrosio (first session), 1m 59.275s, P21

Glock’s day was affected by a steering problem and he reported that the Virgin’s rear end was too nervous. Di Grassi had to share his car, only running in the second session, when he got his first experience of the Marina Bay track. Not surprisingly, he struggled to get the car balanced in his 90 minutes. GP2 racer Jerome d’Ambrosio ran the VR01 in the first session, and did a fine job to lap within two-tenths of Glock’s best time on his first run in an F1 car.

HRT
Bruno Senna, 1m 59.783s, P22/1m 54.725s, P23
Christian Klein, 2m 03.424s, P23/1m 55.542s, P24

No big problems for the HRT drivers, apart from for Sakon Yamamoto who found out late that he was being replaced by Christian Klien for the weekend.

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