It may be Formula One’s night race, but under the setting sun in Singapore Fernando Alonso topped the opening free practice time sheet. Alonso managed to lap the streets of Singapore 0.122 seconds faster than Hamilton and Rosberg with a 1:49:056.
The championship battle remains in the control of Rosberg after the German’s second place in Italy. Hamilton ensured his lead was reduced after he took the chequered flag in first place at Monza, to rake in the 25 points.
Although the inter team battle at Mercedes has been the major talking point throughout the season, going into this weekends Singapore Grand Prix the talking point affected the entire field. The FIA have announced there will be restrictions on the radio messages between the driver and the pit wall. From this race onwards there will be a ban on messages regarding the following have all been banned: Drivers technique, the driving line, contact with kerbs, specific corner set-ups, gear selection & throttle application, breaking points, application of the brakes, car stability under breaking and use of the overtaking button. But not only are these more technical aspects banned, comparisons between the drivers regarding sector times, gear selection, corner speeds and breaking are also banned.
All these bans will mean the driver is more responsible for the driving of the car than they have been recently. However, the real implications will yet to be seen until the cars hit the track.
Come 6pm local time, or 11am in the Uk, the green light flicked on for the start of the session, with Max Chilton hitting the track first. Before the early installation lap runners rolled out.
However, once the drivers completed their installation laps, only Nico Rosberg remained out. Although this would only be for a few laps as the Championship leader was soon back in the pits minus his front left wing mirror after it fell off. As for Rosberg’s team-mate and championship rival, Hamilton set the first timed lap of the session with a 1:52:748 and soon improved to a 1:51:934.
As other drivers began to set their early lap times in FP1 Hamilton stayed temporarily unchallenged. But once Rosberg was back out on the track, he went straight to the top spot three tenths faster than Hamilton. From then onwards the times began to tumble with Raikkonen, Rosberg, Alonso and Vettel all improving to shake up the top 4.
Come the start of the second third, Rosberg was back out on track and finding a heap of time, going 1.2 seconds faster than Vettel and setting the first sub-1 min 50 second lap time of the day. But whilst he set about going quicker, Button and Gutierrez were still yet to post a timed lap.
Over the subsequent 20 minutes, Lewis regained to spot from Nico, but by just over two hundredths of a second. In addition, Lewis’ former team-mate Jenson Button finally managed to complete a timed lap. However it was only good enough for 12th place, over 3 seconds off Hamilton’s pace. Meanwhile, Gutierrez remained in the pits without setting a time, whilst his team-mate sat in 10th place.
Kicking off the final third of FP1, Fernando Alonso moved ahead of Hamilton by a shade over 1 tenth of a second. The Mercedes drivers continued to sit in the other top three positions, whilst Gutierrez finally set a timed lap with just over 15 minutes remaining of the session.
The final ten minutes of the session began with calamity. John-Eric Vergne suffered an issue at the end of the pit lane and remained stationary. Unfortunately he was joined by both Williams cars and caused a jam. Luckily once the Williams mechanics arrived on the scene, they were able to move their cars and Vergne’s Toro Rosso mechanics could push him back to his nearby garage. When Vergne had returned to the garage he also requested the team to give him the medicine, before being handed some tablets. So clearly the Frenchman is feeling under the weather.
Another driver facing a late issue was Kimi Raikkonen. As the Finn entered the pits to end his session, he carried a front right brake fire which was swiftly extinguished.
But as the chequered flag fell, it was Kimi’s team-mate Fernando Alonso sitting on the top of the time sheet ahead of both the Mercedes’. Following in behind were the two Red Bull and John-Eric Vergne, who remains without a F1 drive for 2015.
The biggest under-performers in FP1 based on recent results were the Williams duo. Massa ended the session the highest Williams driver but could only lap 2.8seconds off of Alonso pace for 13th place.
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:49.874||0.818||27|
|5||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:50.122||1.066||21|
|10||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:51.131||2.075||23|
|12||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:51.604||2.548||23|