A late rush for slick tyres created an unusual final order at the end of the opening practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix, with Mark Webber narrowly emerging on top of the timesheets at the end of a largely damp session.
The championship leader robbed Michael Schumacher of the bragging rights in topping a practice session for the first time in his comeback season, with the Australian hustling his Red Bull around the Marina Bay circuit just 0.119 seconds quicker than the seven-time World Champion’s Mercedes GP.
Wet-weather specialist Adrian Sutil was predictably at the pointy end of the timesheets with the third-quickest lap time, three-tenths quicker than the other Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel.
The order took a more unusual appearance, with Jaime Alguersuari winding up fifth-quickest in the Toro Rosso and Jenson Button’s McLaren. It was a good session for Toro Rosso and Force India, who had both cars inside the top-eight: Vitantonio Liuzzi finished seventh-quickest, and Sébastien Buemi wound up eighth-fastest.
With this being the first session in the event’s history held in wet conditions, one key lesson learned by the entire grid was how long the track took to dry under floodlights. Despite it not having rained for over an hour before the session began, the racing line was only dry enough for slick tyres in the final fifteen minutes of the session.
The actual pacesetters in the damper conditions were none other than Kamui Kobayashi and Timo Glock, with the German taking pride of place as the quickest runner for a full 13 minutes’ running.
But such was the flurry for dry-weather tyres in the closing minutes that the likes of Nick Heidfeld (13th) and even Lewis Hamilton (18th) had sat comfortably at the sharp end of the timing screens in the closing minutes, only to fall down the order as other runners posted better lap times as the track surface continued to dry.
Aside from Heidfeld, the session saw some other new(ish) names appearing on the timing screens, in the form of Jerome d’Ambrosio, Christian Klien and Fairuz Fauzy.
Of the three, d’Ambrosio proved the quickest, finishing just 0.2 seconds slower than Glock in the sister Virgin racer, while Klien – making his race return this weekend – and Fauzy propped up the bottom of the timesheets.
It was a largely incident-free session, despite the odd bounce over the chicane kerbing or slide into the run-off area.
2010 Singapore GP Practice 1 Session Times:
[Original image via Sutton Images]