And, would you believe it, it’s the Red Bulls who look to have the early pace, with Sebastian Vettel setting an ominously quick lap in the second session to beat teammate Mark Webber to top spot.
And not just pip him to top spot – Seb was a full six tenths quicker than Mark, who was himself four-tenths clear of third fastest Jenson Button. Looks like we’re back in Red Bull territory.
There were a few different names on the timing screens FP1, with a debutant and two returnees taking part. First there was Fairuz Fauzy, who was contesting his third Friday session of the season for Lotus, in place of Jarno Trulli.
Second, and making his F1 debut, was Jerome d’Ambrosio, the long-time GP2 peddler who’s now ‘under evaluation’ at Virgin. He’ll contest FP1 for the remainder of 2010, replacing Lucas di Grassi each time, which is an odd decision when you consider that Lucas has never seen four of the five tracks left on the calendar.
Still, Jerome made a good job of it, ending the session just 0.2 down on Timo Glock. Looks like Lucas has competition for his seat.
Of course Nick Heidfeld is also back this weekend, replacing the lackluster Pedro de la Rosa at Sauber. Nick had a very solid day considering he’d never driven the Sauber until this morning, finishing 12th in the first session on 13th in the second. On both occasions Nick with just shy of teammate Kamui Kobayashi- not a bad start.
And finally, welcome back to F1 Mr Christian Klien, He’ll replace Sakon Yamamoto at Hispania this weekend as the Japanese driver is feeling a bit iffy.
“It looks as if Sakon Yamamoto has food poisoning,” explained Hispania team principal Colin Kolles earlier today. “Because of this, Christian will be driving the car on Friday and for the rest of the Singapore Grand Prix.
Big question: does Sakon still have to pay for this weekend, is it discounted, or will he get his money back?
Anyway, Klien was steady in FP1, ending up well down on teammate Bruno Senna, before pegging the Brazilian in the second session but still ending up eight-tenths off his teammate and nearly nine seconds off the pace. It’s a tough gig.
FP1 saw Mark Webber top the time sheets, dashing Michael Schumacher’s hopes of topping a session for the first time this year. The Aussie set a late lap on the drying circuit to edge out Schumacher by 0.119. Adrian Sutil was third, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Jaime Alguersuari and Jenson Button, with the order given a bit of a topsy-turvy look by a spate of laps in the session’s drying-dying moments.
Added to Alguersuari’s place in the top-five we had Liuzzi and Buemi seventh and eighth respectively (no disrespect to these lads but they don’t usually make the top-ten) with Alonso (p.11), Hamilton (p.18) and Massa (p.19) all down the order by dint of not setting a quick late lap.
The second session was rather ominously dominated by Red Bull, with Sebastian Vettel going quickest from teammate Mark Webber. They were separated by a whopping 0.627s, suggesting that Seb’s set on victory this weekend as he seeks to get himself back in to the thick of the championship battle.
The Red Bull drivers’ title contenders all joined them in the top-five, with Jenson Button third, Fernando Alonso fourth and Lewis Hamilton sixth. These three were separated by just over a tenth of a second, suggesting the action behind the Red Bulls will be pretty fierce.
But that’s not to give up on this one as a contest – Red Bull often show blinding speed in practice and qualifying only to get dragged in to a proper race once the action begins on Sunday afternoon. Will it be that way again in Singapore? We’ll know a little more -but far from the whole story – after tomorrrow’s qualifying.