REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION Sebastian Vettel clocked the quickest time in the opening practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix today.
The Red Bull driver set the early pace with a time of one minute and 50.566 seconds, less than a tenth of a second ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Hamilton’s McLaren counterpart, Jenson Button, finished 0.893 seconds behind Vettel after the opening session, while championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari ended practice almost a second adrift in fourth.
Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was fifth fastest ahead of Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, who set a time of one minute and 51.655 seconds during his 19 laps. Force India duo Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta, Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso and Sauber’s Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
Beleaguered Ferrari driver Felipe Massa finished 2.514 seconds behind the session’s pacesetter in 16th position. The session began tentatively with an early-morning downpour dampening the track significantly.
Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Timo Glock (Marussia) and Pedro de la Rosa (HRT) were the only competitors to set times on intermediates during the opening half an hour of practice. It was not until the final 30 minutes of practice where things really started to heat up with Vettel and Hamilton vying for top honours.
The two rivals exchanged places atop the leaderboard but Vettel, who was forced to retire from the Italian Grand Prix due to an alternator failure, produced a steadying performance during his 24 laps.