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26 Sep 2008

Practice One - Hamilton fastest in first-ever night session

Fittingly, Friday evening’s first practice session for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix boiled down to a fight between McLaren and Ferrari, as Lewis Hamilton beat Felipe Massa by 0.080s in the quest for the fastest lap.

The Briton pushed his MP4-23 to 1m 45.518s, Massa his F2008 to 1m 45.598s. The Brazilian’s late improvement bumped team mate Kimi Raikkonen to third on 1m 45.961s. The Finn had seemed set to topple Hamilton late in the hour-and-a-half session, but a wobble in the last corner, Turn 23, hamstrung that lap and another subsequently quick one also fell apart before its conclusion.

Heikki Kovalainen took fourth place for McLaren on 1m 46.463s ahead of Robert Kubica’s BMW Sauber (1m 46.618s), Nico Rosberg’s Williams (1m 46.710s), Fernando Alonso’s Renault (1m 46.725s), Nick Heidfeld’s BMW Sauber (1m 46.964s), Nelson Piquet’s Renault (1m 47.175s) and Jenson Button’s Honda (1m 47.277s).

At 1900 hours the two Force Indias, in the order of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, led the field out of the pits on a day when Formula One history was made under the floodlights. And the general feeling thus far is that running the cars in such conditions, and on a picturesque track, has been a major success.
Mark Webber was the first man to fall foul of the bumps in Turn 18 when his Red Bull was put ever so slightly off line going into the left-hander and smacked into the water-filled barrier on the outside hard enough to inflict right-hand front suspension damage.

The bumps also put Jarno Trulli down an escape road, saw David Coulthard spin his Red Bull in Turn 14 and Sutil his Force India in the chicane, and put Piquet in trouble in Turn 18. The other major action came in the final Turn 23 as Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel had a big tank-slapper there that he was able to get away with, and Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello also had spins. Trulli drove his Toyota the wrong way to get into the pits, a misdemeanour for which he was subsequently fined 10,000 euros, while Barrichello backed his Honda into the wall, causing light damage. Kovalainen performed a spectacular 360 rotation there before continuing.

Behind the top 10, Vettel was 11th on 1m 47.570s, followed by Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima (1m 47.662s), early pacesetter Timo Glock (1m 47.706s) for Toyota, Sebastien Bourdais (1m 48.097s) in the second Toro Rosso, Coulthard (1m 48.517s), Barrichello (1m 48.725s), Sutil (1m 48.839s), Fisichella (1m 48.906s), Trulli (1m 49.064s) and Webber (1m 53.703s).

Looking at Hamilton as he enters the corner Raikkonen in the Ferrari with Trulli just behind him Onboard with Webber as he hits the barrier Barrichello spins and hits the barrier
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