- Singapore Grand Prix - FP1
Hamilton leads Red Bulls after first practice
- Singapore Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in the opening practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix, backing up Mercedes' claims that a return to a high-downforce circuit would see it close the gap to Red Bull.
First practice took place against the backdrop of a setting sun and times improved as darkness fell over the circuit. Under the floodlights Hamilton was fastest with a time of 1:47.055, 0.365 quicker than his nearest competitor Mark Webber and 0.830s faster than championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
The times were over three seconds faster than the same session last year as the drivers were able to take more speed through the sweeping Turn 10, which replaces the tricky Singapore Sling chicane this year. But the order was more or less as predicted with Mercedes and Red Bull fighting over the top spot with Lotus and Ferrari behind.
To be precise, Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, 1.299s off Hamilton, while Romain Grosjean was just one thousandth of a second slower than his team-mate in sixth. Grosjean missed out on the early running as the team worked on an issue with his car, but by the end of the session he had made the most of the best conditions, completing 11 laps in the final 30 minutes FP1.
Fernando Alonso and Ferrari appear to have work to do after he could only manage the seventh fastest time, 1.307s off Hamilton. It's not unusual to see Alonso off the pace of the front runners in the first practice session but with team-mate Felipe Massa down in 12th place, 2.438s shy of Hamilton, Ferrari appears to be slower than it had hoped.
Sergio Perez, Jean-Eric Vergne and Esteban Gutierrez rounded off the top ten, indicating a close battle among the midfield teams to make the top ten this weekend.