Lewis Hamilton set the pace for most of the first practice day on Singapore’s new street circuit – but his former team-mate Fernando Alonso had the last laugh with a late fast lap.
The McLaren driver’s 1:45.518 in first practice remained the fastest time of the day, and he ran quickest in second practice until his Spanish rival put in a last-gasp effort to finish fastest in the session.
In the first session of Singapore practice Hamilton put in progressively faster times with an aggressive approach to the circuit’s corners.
By the end the Ferraris were the only cars able to match the two McLarens for pace, with Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonnen setting the second and third fastest times ahead of Heikki Kovalainen.
Best of the rest were Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg and Alonso, with Jenson Button putting in a good performance to run 10th.
Mark Webber came to grief for Red Bull, as did Rubens Barrichello for Honda, while Jarno Trulli span at the final corner and chose to get out of danger by briefly driving the wrong way down the track into the nearby pitlane.
Stewards fined him 10,000 Euros, but he maintained afterwards it had been the safest and quickest way to get his stricken car off a dangerously quick part of the circuit.
Rosberg was fastest at the start of second practice but Hamilton soon outpaced him and stayed quickest until Massa and Kovalainen finally struck back with a quarter of an hour left. Hamilton switched to softer tyres for the end of the session and regained the fastest time – until Alonso swooped at the flag.
Raikkonen had a less successful time of it in the second session, setting only the seventh-fastest time – one place ahead of Button. Kubica and Rosberg again looked strong.
The pitlane exit again threw up an incident – this time a the start of a Nick Heidfeld flying lap coincided with Sebastien Bourdais exiting onto the track, and both cars were forced into evasive action.
Afterwards, Hamilton said the circuit was much more difficult to drive than even the famously-challenging Monaco. He said: “Through certain corners there was lots of bottoming, and when you hit a bump it would throw the car around quite a bit – but it’s an amazing venue. On my first proper run I managed to find a half-decent line, but the car was still bottoming in places.
“On first impressions there seems to be quite a lot of grip on the track, so you can brake quite late into the slower corners. It’s a very physical circuit – more than I expected, actually. You need to put a lot of work into the car to get a good lap – ‘d say it requires double the energy of Monaco over a single lap. One lap around here is like two laps of Monaco.”
Button was unsurprisingly pleased with the improved performance of his Honda in the difficult conditions. He said: “It’s been a very strange day of testing tonight. You would expect the conditions to be cooler but this has to be one of the hottest Fridays that we’ve ever had and it’s just so humid.
“The circuit is interesting to drive and it’s very bumpy which adds to the excitement as the bumps bounce the car all over the place. We spent both sessions trying to improve the ride quality and balance of the car by testing many different things and the outcome was largely positive.
“We didn’t get the best out of the car on my final run with the new tyres, due to too much understeer, but it was still nice to end up eighth quickest. All in all, a good start to the weekend and I’m sure there is still a lot more to come.”
David Coulthard felt the track was aggressive and would punish mistakes: “It’s like the cobbled streets of Paris and very unforgiving, I think there will be a lot of incidents during the race. Unlike Valencia, which was a smooth circuit with very good kerbs, the kerbs here are very aggressive, especially at Turn 10.
“We’ve already seen a few people having incidents this morning and I think we’ll see more of the same story during the weekend. We’ve been playing around with the set-up of the car and the biggest influence at the moment is the tyres and getting the tyres to come in, in order to get a clear lap.”
Practice two times:
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:45.654 (30 laps)
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 1:45.752 (28 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:45.793 (31 laps)
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:45.797 (31 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:46.164 (34 laps)
- Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber: 1:46.384 (36 laps)
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:46.580 (25 laps)
- Jenson Button, Honda: 1:46.901 (32 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:47.013 (32 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:47.046 (22 laps)
- Mark Webber, Red Bull-: 1:47.137 (15 laps)
- Nelson A Piquet, Renault: 1:47.145 (35)
- Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso: 1:47.300 (33 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:47.487 (24 laps)
- David Coulthard, Red Bull: 1:47.640 (31 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber: 1:47.760 (36 laps)
- Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India: 1:47.965 (12 laps)
- Rubens Barrichello, Honda: 1:48.009 (25 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:48.059 (28 laps)
- Adrian Sutil, Force India: 1:48.311 (36 laps)
Practice one times:
- Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 1:45.518 (20 laps)
- Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 1:45.598 (23 laps)
- Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1:45.961 (24 laps)
- Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 1:46.463 (20 laps)
- Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber: 1:46.618 (23 laps)
- Nico Rosberg, Williams: 1:46.710 (25 laps)
- Fernando Alonso, Renault: 1:46.725 (29 laps)
- Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber: 1:46.964 (24 laps)
- Nelson A Piquet, Renault: 1:47.175 (30 laps)
- Jenson Button, Honda: 1:47.277 (30 laps)
- Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso: 1:47.570 (28 laps)
- Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 1:47.662 (23 laps)
- Timo Glock, Toyota: 1:47.706 (27 laps)
- Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 1:48.097 (16 laps)
- David Coulthard, Red Bull: 1:48.517 (23 laps)
- Rubens Barrichello, Honda: 1:48.725 (19 laps)
- Adrian Sutil, Force India 1:48.839 (24 laps)
- Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India: 1:48.906 (25 laps)
- Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 1:49.064 (29 laps)
- Mark Webber, Red Bull: 1:53.703 (4 laps)