Lewis Hamilton set the pace in today's first practice session at the Singapore Grand Prix

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:

Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:47.055   20
2. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:47.420 + 0.365 20
3. Sebastian Vettel DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB9 1:47.885 + 0.830 19
4. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W04 1:48.239 + 1.184 23
5. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:48.354 + 1.299 18
6. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E21 1:48.355 + 1.300 12
7. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:48.362 + 1.307 21
8. Sergio Pérez MEX McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:49.267 + 2.212 20
9. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:49.348 + 2.293 23
10. Esteban Gutiérrez MEX Sauber Ferrari C32 1:49.355 + 2.300 21
11. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW35 1:49.481 + 2.426 20
12. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F138 1:49.493 + 2.438 16
13. Valtteri Bottas FIN Williams Renault FW35 1:49.510 + 2.455 21
14. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-28 1:49.608 + 2.553 20
15. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:49.887 + 2.832 18
16. Adrian Sutil DEU Force India Mercedes VJM06 1:50.092 + 3.037 20
17. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Sauber Ferrari C32 1:50.222 + 3.167 17
18. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR8 1:50.757 + 3.702 16
19. Jules Bianchi FRA Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:52.359 + 5.304 16
20. Max Chilton GBR Marussia Cosworth MR02 1:52.673 + 5.618 15
21. Giedo van der Garde NED Caterham Renault CT03 1:52.920 + 5.865 24
22. Charles Pic FRA Caterham Renault CT03 1:53.647 + 6.592 23


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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.