Lewis Hamilton has led proceedings as the first free practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix drew to a close.
Sporting a revised helmet scheme, the Mercedes driver finished the session 0.365 seconds faster than Mark Webber, while defending race-winner Sebastian Vettel was a further half a second adrift in third.
As is typically the case with the first practice session of any Grand Prix, the 22-car field kept its running limited while track conditions were at their worst. After the usual round of installation laps and system checks, the five-kilometre track remained silent for the next half hour, while everyone waited for someone else to go out and sweep up the detritus.
Eventually Sergio Pérez bit the bullet with the first proper timed lap in his McLaren, before the rest of the field followed suit and the frontrunning Red Bull and Mercedes entries began to wage a fun battle at the top of the timesheets.
Hamilton and Webber were the main combatants, with the Englishman eventually emerging on top with a time over three seconds quicker than the best FP1 time of 2012 – although much of that has to do with the removal of the unpopular ‘Singapore Sling’ chicane at Turn 10.
Nico Rosberg finished fourth-fastest to make it a Mercedes / Red Bull sandwich atop the timesheets – although the German was over a second off the pace of his teammate – while Kimi Räikkönen was fifth-fastest in the Lotus, which the team has opted to run in its short wheelbase configuration for the entire weekend.
Despite losing time in the pits while his mechanics made changes to his steering, Romain Grosjean was sixth-fastest in the sister Lotus.
Fernando Alonso could only manage the seventh-fastest time, with Sergio Pérez and Jean-Éric Vergne next up, while Esteban Gutiérrez hit the giddy heights of tenth-fastest in his Sauber.
Street circuit specialist Pastor Maldonado was narrowly bumped out of the top-ten, with Felipe Massa Valtteri Bottas and Jenson Button next up ahead of the two Force Indias, Nico Hülkenberg in the Sauber and Daniel Ricciardo in the second Toro Rosso.
Having been outpaced by their main rivals Caterham for the last three Grands Prix, this time it was the turn of the two Marussias to win in the battle of the backmarkers. Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton completed the top-twenty, while Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic brought up the rear.
2013 Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Session Times:
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:47.055||20|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:47.420||+ 0.365||20|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB9||1:47.885||+ 0.830||19|
|4.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04||1:48.239||+ 1.184||23|
|5.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:48.354||+ 1.299||18|
|6.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E21||1:48.355||+ 1.300||12|
|7.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:48.362||+ 1.307||21|
|8.||Sergio Pérez||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:49.267||+ 2.212||20|
|9.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:49.348||+ 2.293||23|
|10.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:49.355||+ 2.300||21|
|11.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW35||1:49.481||+ 2.426||20|
|12.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F138||1:49.493||+ 2.438||16|
|13.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Renault FW35||1:49.510||+ 2.455||21|
|14.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-28||1:49.608||+ 2.553||20|
|15.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:49.887||+ 2.832||18|
|16.||Adrian Sutil||Force India Mercedes VJM06||1:50.092||+ 3.037||20|
|17.||Nico Hülkenberg||Sauber Ferrari C32||1:50.222||+ 3.167||17|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8||1:50.757||+ 3.702||16|
|19.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:52.359||+ 5.304||16|
|20.||Max Chilton||Marussia Cosworth MR02||1:52.673||+ 5.618||15|
|21.||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham Renault CT03||1:52.920||+ 5.865||24|
|22.||Charles Pic||Caterham Renault CT03||1:53.647||+ 6.592||23|
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