McLaren impress but Sebastian Vettel fastest in practice for the Singapore Grand Prix

 

Sebastian Vettel doubled up in practice to post the fastest times in both of today's sessions for the Singapore Grand Prix.

In the initial 90-minute run reigning champion Vettel edged McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by just 0.049 seconds around the five kilometres of the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

The duo were in a class of two as their rivals were left trailing at the end of a session that started in daylight, went through dusk and finished under the 1,500 halogen lamps that ensure darkness is kept at bay.

In session two it was a slightly different story as Red Bull's Vettel was comfortably out in front by 0.311secs, closing with a lap of 1:48.340, over two seconds faster than in FP1.

That, however, was due to the use of the supersoft tyres in FP2 that no team employed earlier on, and proving what a sizeable difference they make on such a bumpy surface.

Instead of Hamilton as second quickest it was team-mate Jenson Button who took the honour of falling in behind the 24-year-old German eager to prove there is life in Red Bull's championship challenge.

Vettel has mustered just one victory so far this campaign, and that way back in April in Bahrain, since when has been clinging on in the championship race.

In particular two alternator failures in Valencia and last time out in Italy have seriously undermined his hopes, casting him 39 points adrift of the championship leader in Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard had to settle for third fastest, just over half a second behind Vettel, whose team-mate Mark Webber was fourth, 0.624secs off the pace.

As for Hamilton, quickest early on and who set the initial pace on the supersoft rubber, the 27-year-old was three quarters of a second down in fifth.

Force India duo Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, who gave wind the Silverstone-based team were on the rise on Italy, again look strong on this track.

The duo, a fraction under a second behind Vettel, were split by just 0.039secs, with Di Resta just getting the edge on his German team-mate.

Another German in Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was eighth quickest ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, with Michael Schumacher in 11th and almost two seconds adrift in his Mercedes.

As for Kimi Raikkonen, in the hunt for the title at 38 points behind Alonso even though he has yet to win a race this season, the Finn is seemingly in no man's land at present on this circuit, finishing two seconds down on Vettel.

Williams' Bruno Senna was the only casualty of the two sessions, clipping a wall and spinning, causing a red flag and an eight-minute delay.

PA

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