Alonso sets Singapore alight

Fernando Alonso outshone Lewis Hamilton in the dark to go quickest in opening practice for the historic inaugural Singapore Grand Prix.

The Spaniard pipped the McLaren driver to the top spot with a late lap of 1:45.654 in closing stages of the second practice session.

“The first day of work has gone well,” reflected the double world champion. “The circuit is interesting, very bumpy in places, especially into turn number 7, and we have to keep an eye on that because it can become a problem.”

“In terms of the lighting, when I walked the track I was impressed, but behind the wheel at 300 km/h some parts of the track are a bit dark. But despite that, this is an amazing opportunity for the spectators to attend a night race and I am satisfied with my day.”

Hamilton set the pace in the first practice session and his time of 1:45.518 stood as the quickest of the day, though he had to battle with his MP4-23 bottoming out on the straights.

“Through certain corners there was lots of bottoming, and when you hit a bump it would throw the car around quite a bit,” he explained, “but it s an amazing venue”.

“On my first proper run, I managed to find a half-decent line – but the car was still bottoming in places,” he added. “I was able to get more comfortable with the car; on first impressions, there seems to be quite a lot of grip on the track, so you can brake quite late.”

“It s a very physical circuit – more than I expected, actually. You need to put a lot of work into the car to get a good lap – I d say it requires double the energy of Monaco over a single lap. One lap around here is like two laps of Monaco!”

Felipe Massa was third quickest at the end of the second session with McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen in fourth ahead of Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen. Jenson Button wound up an impressive eighth quickest for Honda.

Pos  Driver        Team                     Time              Laps
 1.  Alonso        Renault             (B)  1:45.654            30
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:45.752  + 0.098   28
 3.  Massa         Ferrari             (B)  1:45.793  + 0.139   31
 4.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:45.797  + 0.143   31
 5.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:46.164  + 0.510   34
 6.  Kubica        BMW Sauber          (B)  1:46.384  + 0.730   36
 7.  Raikkonen     Ferrari             (B)  1:46.580  + 0.926   25
 8.  Button        Honda               (B)  1:46.901  + 1.247   32
 9.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota     (B)  1:47.013  + 1.359   32
10.  Glock         Toyota              (B)  1:47.046  + 1.392   22
11.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:47.137  + 1.483   15
12.  Piquet        Renault             (B)  1:47.145  + 1.491   35
13.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:47.300  + 1.646   33
14.  Bourdais      Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:47.487  + 1.833   24
15.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:47.640  + 1.986   31
16.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          (B)  1:47.760  + 2.106   36
17.  Fisichella    Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:47.965  + 2.311   12
18.  Barrichello   Honda               (B)  1:48.009  + 2.355   25
19.  Trulli        Toyota              (B)  1:48.059  + 2.405   28
20.  Sutil         Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:48.311  + 2.657   36