All a blur... Sebastian Vettel was rapid around the streets of Singapore

Defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel has set the pace in the opening practice of the Singapore Grand Prix, a race he will undoubtedly try to win for a second time in order to reignite his title defence.

The German only narrowly managed to claim top spot, beating championship rival Lewis Hamilton by less than five-hundredths of a second, with the pair almost a second clear of the rest of the field around Singapore’s twisty five-kilometre layout.

The city had been hit by heavy rain in the morning, and the circuit was still damp when the session got underway at 6:00pm local time.

More runners gradually trickled out onto the circuit to post some meaningful lap times as the track began to dry in the final half-hour – Fernando Alonso (who finished the session fourth-fastest overall) proved to be the quickest driver to post a lap time on intermediate tyres, with a 2:01.573.

The field began to switch to slick tyres after Kamui Kobayashi vaulted to the top of the timesheets, before the usual order was restored when Vettel and Hamilton began trading fastest lap times.

Jenson Button moved into third-fastest, ahead of Alonso, while the top ten was completed by Pastor Maldonado, Mark Webber, Nico Hulkenberg, Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez, who complained bitterly about his Sauber’s unstable handling.

The session was thankfully devoid of any major incidents, although a few drivers – most notably Maldonado and Romain Grosjean (back in the cockpit after his one-race ban) were among those to take trips up the circuit’s many escape roads after out-braking themselves.

Down at the bottom of the timesheets, Marussia had a more competitive showing to get Timo Glock ahead of both Caterham runners, while HRT F1 development driver Hua Qing Ma had another outing in the F112. Given his lack of familiarity with the circuit and the car, he did well to lap within two seconds of Pedro de la Rosa, although his pace is not yet indicative that the Chinese driver deserves a race seat anytime soon.

2012 Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:50.566   24
2. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:50.615 + 0.049 15
3. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:51.459 + 0.893 17
4. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:51.525 + 0.959 20
5. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:51.576 + 1.010 20
6. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:51.655 + 1.089 19
7. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:51.658 + 1.092 24
8. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:51.943 + 1.377 21
9. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:52.275 + 1.709 24
10. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:52.296 + 1.730 19
11. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:52.629 + 2.063 25
12. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:52.716 + 2.150 16
13. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:52.839 + 2.273 23
14. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:52.986 + 2.420 21
15. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:53.028 + 2.462 20
16. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:53.080 + 2.514 17
17. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:53.189 + 2.623 25
18. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:53.227 + 2.661 26
19. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:54.908 + 4.342 20
20. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:55.091 + 4.525 16
21. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:55.335 + 4.769 22
22. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:55.760 + 5.194 22
23. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:56.656 + 6.090 21
24. Qing Hua Ma CHN HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:58.053 + 7.487 20

Great deals for the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix!

The following two tabs change content below.

Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.