In the end, nobody expected the Spanish Imposition, least of all Lewis Hamilton, who found himself knocked off the perch as the fastest driver in the second session of practice for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix by his old adversary, Fernando Alonso.
Towards the end of the day's running Hamilton (right) and title rival Felipe Massa swapped the honours, as Massa trimmed Hamilton's time to one minute 45.793 seconds before the Englishman returned the favour with 1:45.752sec. But then Alonso came roaring out of the floodlights with a low-fuel-load lap in 1:45.654sec for Renault, and the chequered flag fell.
Hamilton did, however, retain the consolation of the day's fastest lap, 1:45.518sec, set in the first session.
It was an historic day for Formula One, as it marked its debut beneath artificial light, and generally it was adjudged to be a great success. "The lights weren't an issue for me," Hamilton said. "On my first proper run I was able to find a half-decent line, but the car was still bottoming in places. I was able to get more comfortable with it, and on first impression there seems to be quite a lot of grip."
Less popular, however, were the numerous bumps on the new track. "I was a little bit concerned about how bumpy it would be in places as there is some reclaimed land, if you like," Red Bull's Mark Webber had said after a previous visit. It was thus ironic that the Australian became the first casualty when he crashed after only three laps as bumps put him offline for Turn 18 and sent him into a barrier. He was not alone, however. On the still-slippery surface Monza winner Sebastian Vettel, David Coulthard, Jarno Trulli, Nelson Piquet, Heikki Kovalainen, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa were among those who either spun or had lurid off-track moments.