• Singapore Grand Prix - FP1

Vettel tops first session in Singapore

ESPN Staff
September 21, 2012
Sebastian Vettel sits in the cockpit of his Red Bull with his special Singapore helmet design © Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets during the first practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix, finishing just ahead of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren.

Vettel, sporting a special helmet with LED lights on top, clocked a 1:50.556 on soft tyres, just 0.049s faster than Hamilton but nearly a second quicker than Jenson Button in third and Fernando Alonso in fourth. The session started in wet conditions but the racing line soon dried and the track improved throughout the session. None of the drivers ran the super-soft tyres, meaning times should fall again if the second session stays dry.

All the top teams were testing some sort of upgrade and also readjusting to a full-downforce setup after the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix. Mercedes had one of the most noticeable updates with a new exhaust system at rear of the car, but neither driver appeared to go for a flat-out lap and both finished the session outside the top ten.

Meanwhile, there was a mix of cars occupying the top ten with Pastor Maldonado's Williams fifth fastest ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull, the Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso and Sergio Perez in the Suaber. Both Lotuses were outside the top ten as they trialled a new DRS rear wing, but not the double DRS device that is expected to run again at the Japanese Grand Prix. Felipe Massa was also outside the top ten in 16th, but was no doubt gathering data on the new bits and pieces on the Ferrari.

At the bottom of the timesheets Ma Qing Hua returned to the cockpit of the HRT for his second Friday practice session in a row. HRT was testing a new floor, its final major update of the season, and Ma was 1.397s off the pace of team-mate Pedro de la Rosa.