Hamilton tops first ever night practice
|By Matt Beer
||Friday, September 26th 2008, 12:33 GMT
Lewis Hamilton emerged fastest for McLaren in the historic first practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix, as Formula One cars took to the track under floodlights for the first time ever.
The Ferraris took second and third, with Felipe Massa just 0.080 seconds behind Hamilton and four tenths of a second ahead of teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Heikki Kovalainen completed the top four in the second McLaren, followed by BMW's Robert Kubica.
Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India) and Jenson Button (Honda) had the honour of being the first men to take to the track and the first to set a flying lap respectively, but it was Toyota's Timo Glock and Renault's Fernando Alonso who emerged as the early pace-setters after the opening runs.
The title contenders started cautiously and gradually built up speed, with Hamilton the first of them to hit the front when he lapped in 1:47.160 as the session passed its halfway point.
Alonso briefly got back ahead of Hamilton with his next flying lap, before the Ferraris each took a turn at the top with half an hour remaining.
Hamilton was still finding more time, though, as he edged back ahead of Raikkonen by 0.068 seconds then improved by a further tenth of a second later in his run.
Raikkonen threatened to beat Hamilton in the final two minutes, only to lose time in the final sector, while Hamilton then went quicker still on his last lap and produced a 1:45.518.
Massa then leapt to second, just 0.080 seconds adrift of the McLaren in the closing moments, as Raikkonen chose to abandon what looked like an even quicker final lap.
Behind Raikkonen and Kovalainen, Kubica earned fifth at the end of a spectacular session that included a high-flying trip over the Turn 10 kerbs by the Pole, who then caught a wild sideways slide as his BMW Sauber landed back on the asphalt.
Nico Rosberg was rapid throughout the session and ultimately put his Williams in sixth, ahead of Alonso, BMW's Nick Heidfeld, Nelson Piquet in the second Renault, and Jenson Button - who showed promising form for Honda to complete the top ten.
In this groundbreaking session, Mark Webber had the unhappy distinction of being the first man to crash at the Marina Bay circuit. The Australian carried too much speed into the left-hander headed into the tunnel under the main grandstand, putting his Red Bull-Renault into the barriers on only his fifth lap.
That left Webber at the bottom of the timesheets, and will give his Red Bull Racing team plenty to do in the shortened one-hour gap before second practice - the usual Friday schedule having been compressed for Singapore to ensure maximum after-dark mileage.
Rubens Barrichello also ended the session in the wall, spinning into the barriers at the last turn with 15 minutes to go, although his Honda escaped with relatively little damage.
He wasn't the only driver to get caught out by the final corner. Both Kovalainen and Toyota's Jarno Trulli spun at the same spot, but while Kovalainen quickly resumed, Trulli drove the wrong way down the circuit briefly then turned across the kerbs and into the pitlane, in a manoeuvre that might attract the stewards' attention.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:45.518 20
2. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:45.598 + 0.080 23
3. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:45.961 + 0.443 24
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:46.463 + 0.945 20
5. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) 1:46.618 + 1.100 23
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:46.710 + 1.192 25
7. Alonso Renault (B) 1:46.725 + 1.207 29
8. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:46.964 + 1.446 24
9. Piquet Renault (B) 1:47.175 + 1.657 30
10. Button Honda (B) 1:47.277 + 1.759 30
11. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:47.570 + 2.052 28
12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:47.662 + 2.144 23
13. Glock Toyota (B) 1:47.706 + 2.188 27
14. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:48.097 + 2.579 16
15. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:48.517 + 2.999 23
16. Barrichello Honda (B) 1:48.725 + 3.207 19
17. Sutil Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:48.839 + 3.321 24
18. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:48.906 + 3.388 25
19. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:49.064 + 3.546 29
20. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:53.703 + 8.185 4
All Timing Unofficial