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Friday analysis - very little light shed on Singapore form 21 Sep 2012

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Charles Pic (FRA) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012

The thunderstorm before the start of GP2 practice left the Marina Bay Street Circuit damp in places for the start of Practice One, so it was not until half an hour or more that everyone really got down to work analysing set-up and the performance of Pirelli’s soft and super-soft compound tyres. On a green track there were several minor incidents, but only Bruno Senna really damaged his car after sliding into a wall in Practice Two. As usual the times were close, and it remains hard to call form on the basis of the three hours’ worth of running. The clearer picture will emerge in Practice Three, so long as the weather plays ball. We take a team-by-team look at progress…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 50.566s, P1/1m 48.340s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 51.655s, P6/1m 48.964s, P4

Vettel was cautiously optimistic but played down what Hamilton described as his ‘incredible’ speed after being fastest in both sessions. Webber got going well in FP2 but said that the key will be to keep up with the track as it evolves on Saturday.

McLaren
Jenson Button, 1m 51.459s, P3/1m 48.651s, P2
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 50.615s, P2/1m 49.086s, P5

Button said he was unhappy with his MP4-27’s balance and thought that some changes incorporated in the expectation of optimising the car for Marina Bay may have been counter-productive. Hamilton was happy with his car in short-run trim, and said that its performance on the long runs seemed to be competitive too.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 51.525s, P4/1m 48.896s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 53.080s, P16/1m 50.039s, P9

Alonso reported that some of the new developments brought here were positive but that others were less so, and pondered that the latter might simply need more time. Overall, however, he reported a positive day, albeit not as competitive as at Monza. Massa said he’d had a tough day, in which his car’s handling just wasn’t right. He suffered particularly badly with tyre degradation but said that they found something later on the car that wasn’t working properly, which might have been contributory but was not the complete answer.

Force India
Paul di Resta, 1m 51.943s, P8/1m 49.300s, P6
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 51.658s, P7/1m 49.339s, P7

Both drivers were in the top eight in both sessions, and with decent balance straight away it proved to be a very positive start for Force India.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 53.227s, P18/1m 49.790s, P8
Michael Schumacher, 1m 52.986s, P14/1m 50.263s, P11

The good news was that Mercedes’ new bodywork and exhausts worked reliably. The less good news was that the new developments will take time to understand fully. Schumacher admitted that he had no clear picture of his day and that the evening would be spent studying the copious data the reliability had enabled the team to amass. Rosberg was cautiously optimistic.

Lotus
Romain Grosjean, 1m 53.028s, P15/1m 50.161s, P10
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 52.716s, P12/1m 50.345s, P12

Grosjean played himself back in during FP1, but said later that the E20 needed more pace. The set-up was the same as it had been in Monaco and Budapest, where the car was competitive, but something seems to be lacking here. Raikkonen echoed the sentiments, and suggested that they lacked downforce.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 51.576s, P5/1m 50.636s, P13
Bruno Senna, 1m 52.629s, P11/1m 51.452s, P17

Williams had a mixed day, with Maldonado showing good speed in FP1 despite a visit to the Turn Nine escape road, but Senna stopping in both sessions. In the morning the Brazilian slowed with an undisclosed problem; in the afternoon he got out of shape, tapped the wall, and then half spun to a stop. That brought out the red flag, and he was unable to continue.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 52.275s, P9/1m 50.791s, P14
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 53.189s, P17/1m 52.009s, P18

Ricciardo said his car felt good in FP1 but that changes made for FP2 were less beneficial than hoped. Vergne said that Marina Bay is the toughest circuit he’s experienced so far in F1 and that he was making a lot of mistakes early on. He was also unhappy with his STR7’s set-up.

Sauber
Sergio Perez 1m 52.296s, P10/1m 51.122s, P15
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 52.839s, P13/1m 51.450s, P16

Sauber did not expected to repeat their Monza performance, and off-track excursions for both drivers suggested that they were struggling. Perez said his car’s behaviour was inconsistent, while Kobayashi complained of too much oversteer.

Marussia
Timo Glock, 1m 54.908s, P19/1m 52.218s, P19
Charles Pic, 1m 55.335s, P21/1m 52.863s, P21

Marussia were very happy to beat Caterham in both sessions as Glock made the most of some modifications which included rear suspension changes. The latter were adjudged to have been very successful. Pic focused mainly on learning a new track which was rendered trickier than usual by the morning’s storm.

Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 55.091s, P20/1m 52.576s, P20
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 55.760s, P22/1m 52.936s, P22

The speed of Glock’s Marussia came as a rude surprise to the team, as team principal Tony Fernandes made his first appearance since Silverstone.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 56.656s, P23/1m 54.448s, P23
Narain Karthikeyan (pm only), 1m 54.514s, P24
Ma Qing Hua (am only) 1m 58.053s, P24

The team focused on learning the circuit as none of their drivers had raced on it previously, though de la Rosa was also able to assess a new floor. Qing did a good job in FP1 and was at one stage very close to de la Rosa until the Spaniard staged a late improvement.

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