He’s got a massive points advantage, a lucky pig from his dad Norbert and to top it off he’s ended Friday as F1’s fastest man under the lights. All in all, you have to admit that Sebastian Vettel’s chances of scoring world title number two at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix look good.
Friday saw a chaotic start to what is perhaps F1’s most visually spectacular weekend of the season, with track problems proving a major issue at the Marina Bay circuit for the first time in its four year tenure as an F1 venue.
The first session was a third of its usual length following emergency repairs to the street circuit. Having becoming damaged during Porsche Supercup practice the turn 3 and 14 kerbs were badly in need of attention and were eventually removed altogether to allow the cars to get on track. Half an hour’s running had been lost.
Lewis Hamilton was quickest in the opening session. He and Vettel swapped places at the front twice before the McLaren driver nailed a lap four-tenths quicker than the German’s best effort.
The session saw another red flag in the latter stages as the turn 7 kerb began to disintegrate. Though the track would go green again for the final two minutes there would be little change at the front.
Mark Webber was third for Red Bull, a full second shy of his team-mate, with two-time Singapore winner Fernando Alonso fourth quickest. Jenson Button and Felipe Massa were next up, ahead of the Mercedes-powered cars of Sutil, Schumacher, di Resta and Rosberg.
The session was also interrupted by a fire on Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus, the Finn frying again in Singapore following his spectacular blow-up 12 months ago. Meanwhile Webber came together with Virgin’s Timo Glock as the Aussie tried to pass the German, damaging his front wing in the process.
Vettel then took his now-customary place at the top of the timesheets in the second session, beating Alonso – his closest ‘challenger’ in this year’s title ‘battle’ – by two tenths.
Hamilton was again at the sharp end, though he would end FP2 0.741s slower than Vettel. Massa was fourth having shown good pace in his Ferrari, with Webber P5 and the perhaps-not-so-over-the-hill Michael Schumacher sixth.
Adrian Sutil continued his strong recent form with P7, with Sergio Perez, Kamui Kobayashi and Button completing the top ten.
It was a difficult evening for Jenson. The Brit locked up and narrowly avoided the barriers at turn 14. This ended his session, limiting the 2009 champ to 10 laps. Meanwhile Sebastien Buemi ignored much of what he’s learned in his previous 49 grand prix starts by thumping the wall and badly damaging his Toro Rosso. With Jaime Alguersuari’s car suffering problems it was a miserable session for the Italian squad.
But back to the story of the weekend: today he’s topped practice; this time tomorrow he’s likely to be on pole; will Sebastian Vettel be a two-time world champion 48 hours from now? If he keeps moving towards the light the answer can only be yes.