Firstly I want to begin with a quick comment regarding the Singapore circuit. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Formula One's first night race. What would the track be like? What would visibility be like?
However, after watching first practice this Friday morning, all those questions had answers. The track looks great, the lighting is fantastic. You can see how well the circuit is lit from the image below. The surrounding areas are pitch black, but the track almost looks like daylight. on the visibility front, it seemed clear, and pretty crisp on TV, and the visibility has also been hailed as 'great' by the drivers. So far so good Singapore.
Let's get on with how first practice went. I have added a few images from the practice above, and will make reference to one or two in this article.
Giancarlo Fisichella began the session with a steady stream of cars. With track temperatures one degree higher than the 28 degrees celsius air temperature. Jenson Button set the very first flying lap on the new circuit, a slow 1:59:967, which was immediately beaten by Toyota's Timo Glock who went seven seconds quicker.
Slowly, the frontrunners began to emerge, Kimi Raikkonen being the first. Drivers took their first laps very carefully as they acclimatised to the new track and conditions. Kimi slotted into third place and was dispatched down the order as Alonso and Trulli improved.
We then got a small bit of excitement when Mark Webber experienced a touch of oversteer which sent him into the barrier at turn 18. This bought the yellow flags (or should I say yellow lights) out. This was Mark's fourth and final lap of the session, which saw him drop to 20th fastest or slowest however you see it.
Kubica had some scary moments as he launched the car over the three turn chicane which is almost done at full speed, but ended up second fastest. This was until the Mclaren of Lewis Hamilton ventured out onto the brightly lit track and went P1, but yet again, Hamilton didn't stay P1 for long. Alonso knocked Lewis off the top with a quick 1:47:450.
The first half of the session ended, Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, Button, Kovalainen, Massa, Glock, and Heidfeld.
Second half of practice begins...
Hamilton sets a blistering 1:47:160 to re-take P1 from Alonso, moments before Trulli spins at the final corner. If you take a look at the bottom right pictures, you can see Trulli spinning, this then ended up with him facing the wrong way on the track, so instead of doing another lap to return to the pits, Trulli decided to drive the short distance back up (the wrong-way) to the pit entrance. This wasn't to be the last spin at turn 23.
***Update - 26/09/2008 16:54***
Jarno Trulli has been reprimanded and fined 10,000 euro's for driving the wrong-way up the track and cutting the white pit/track lines.
***End of update, article continues***
Hamilton and Alonso then switched positions again for the fourth time, then Nico Rosberg improved to third, before Massa took the position and then P1 on his next lap. Kubica took second, whilst Kimi took third.
Kovalainen then spun at the final corner and ran wide, then minutes later Barrichello then did the same making it three spins at turn 23. This bought out the Yellow flags (lights) for the seconds time as marshalls took some time to clear his car. With team engineers on the radio telling drivers to avoid the white line at turn 23, the cause of the spins, this meant Barrichello would be the last.
The final five minutes saw the remaining drivers take to the track and set the quickest laps. The final results were;
01 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:45.518 20 laps
02 F. Massa Ferrari 1:45.598 23 laps
03 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:45.961 24 laps
04 H. Kovalainen McLaren 1:46.463 20 laps
05 R. Kubica BMW 1:46.618 23 laps
06 N. Rosberg Williams 1:46.710 25 laps
07 F. Alonso Renault 1:46.725 29 laps
08 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:46.964 24 laps
09 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:47.175 30 laps
10 J. Button Honda 1:47.277 30 laps
11 S. Vettel Toro Rosso 1:47.570 28 laps
12 K. Nakajima Williams 1:47.662 23 laps
13 T. Glock Toyota 1:47.706 27 laps
14 S. Bourdais Toro Rosso 1:48.097 16 laps
15 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:48.517 23 laps
16 R. Barrichello Honda 1:48.725 19 laps
17 A. Sutil Force India F1 1:48.839 24 laps
18 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:48.906 25 laps
19 J. Trulli Toyota 1:49.064 29 laps
20 M. Webber Red Bull 1:53.703 4 laps