F1 Singapore Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton ends Friday on top but Nico Rosberg hampered by Pastor Maldonado's collision with the barrier

The Lotus driver smashed the front-right corner of his car to bring out the red flag and thwart Rosberg when the Mercedes driver was on his fastest lap

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The Independent Online

Pastor Maldonado ended Mercedes' run of seven consecutive one-two finishes at the conclusion of practice on the Friday of a race weekend - although not with a time to trouble the all-conquering team.

Whilst Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheet at the end of the second practice session ahead of Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix, championship leading team-mate Nico Rosberg was forced to settle for a lowly 13th.

That was thanks to Maldonado because at a time when Rosberg was conducting his low-fuel qualifying run on the supersoft tyres, the Venezuelan crashed into a wall, bringing out the red flags.

Since the first race in 2008, the infamous 'crashgate' event won by Fernando Alonso, there has never been a Singapore Grand Prix without a safety car.

 

It came as no surprise, therefore, a red flag emerged during practice - and even less of a surprise it was Maldonado who caused it.

The Venezuelan, involved in more crashes than most throughout his career, lost the rear of his Lotus emerging out of turn 10, sending the front-right ploughing into a wall.

There was further consternation for the team's mechanics as they watched the car being recovered by the marshals.

Swinging around loosely on the end of a crane as the marshals looked on, on a couple of occasions it banged against the track, causing further damage before finally being steadied.

For Rosberg, forced to abort his flying lap, the German was forced to settle for his best time on soft tyres of one minute 49.075 seconds.

That was 1.5secs adrift of Hamilton who led the way with 1min 47.490secs, finishing 0.133secs clear of Alonso in his Ferrari.

Lewis_Hamilton.jpg
Lewis Hamilton tackles the Singapore track on Friday

That was as surprising as the fact Alonso also finished out in front at the end of FP1, the first time the Spaniard had done so since first practice in Canada.

At this stage Alonso would appear to be in a position to give Rosberg and Hamilton a run for their money in qualifying on Saturday as the tight, twisty Marina Bay Street Circuit is to his car's liking.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest, three tenths of a second adrift, followed by Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari.

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Sebastian Vettel disappears under the trees around the Marina Bay circuit

Four-times champion and winner of this event for the last three years in Sebastian Vettel was a remarkable fifth, 0.551secs behind Hamilton in his Red Bull.

At the end of FP1 Vettel's car suffered an engine issue which resulted in his mechanics spending all of their lunch break and the majority of FP2 working to replace the system.

With 10 minutes remaining Vettel finally made it out on track on a set of supersoft tyres to push himself up the order.

The McLaren duo of Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button were sixth and seventh quickest, both just under a second off the pace, followed by Force India duo Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.

Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat rounded out the top 10, with Max Chilton 20th for Marussia, four seconds off the pace.

PA

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