Singapore GP – The Singapore Enigma
A very busy day of free practice for Scuderia Ferrari here at Singapore’s exciting Marina Bay street circuit. The first session began on a damp track, but from then on there was no more rain in the area, so the second session went off normally. The two F2012s completed a total of 91 laps, almost equally divided between the two drivers with Fernando completing 46 and Felipe doing one less.
Fernando Alonso: “We tried various new components on the car: some seem to be positive, others less so, but maybe in the case of the latter, we need to spend a bit more time for them to be developed as well as possible. Overall, I would say today was positive, even if the first impression is that we are not as competitive as we were in Monza, two weeks ago. We still lack a bit of performance on tracks like this one, where you need maximum aerodynamic downforce. From what we saw today, there’s a significant difference between the two types of tyre, but we will have to wait until tomorrow to get a clear picture of the situation on this front. Maybe today’s difference has been somewhat exaggerated by the evolution of the track surface. Testing the tyres over a long distance is very complicated on a track like this, because of the traffic, therefore it’s difficult to make a direct comparison to our main competitors. I am reasonably sure that, on Sunday, we will see rather significant degradation and it will be important to manage that as well as possible.”
Felipe Massa: “It wasn’t an easy day for me. The car wasn’t right all day and I also suffered particularly badly with tyre degradation in both sessions. At the end of the second session, we found something that wasn’t working properly, but that doesn’t explain all my problems. We must find out what happened so we can fix it for the rest of the weekend. We have reasonably clear ideas about the direction to go in when it comes to set-up: one thing’s certain, there’s a lot of work to do.”
Pat Fry: “We had a full programme to get through during the three hours of free practice and, despite the track conditions not being ideal at the start of the first session, we managed to complete practically everything, which is always important. We split the work between the two drivers: Fernando concentrated mainly on evaluating some new components, while Felipe looked more at finding the best balance on the car. It was the same when it came to analysing tyre behaviour, with the drivers tackling different tasks, so as to gather as much data as possible. Fernando started his long run on the Supersoft, while Felipe started on the Soft. There were various updates to try, mainly on the aero side: some lived up to our expectations, others less so. Now we must study the data carefully to decide which will be the best combination for qualifying and the race. There’s definitely a lot to do to get the car right. As for qualifying, it will be important to prepare for the single quick lap as well as possible, while as far as the race is concerned, tyre degradation will be one of the crucial factors. On Friday, it’s always hard to say where we are compared to the others, but it’s clear our main rivals seem very strong, both on a single lap and on a long run. Having said that, we all know it’s Sunday that matters.”
|First session||Second session|
First session: air 31/33 °C, track 30/32 °C.
Second session: air 30/29 °C, track 31/30 °C.
Singapore GP – Plenty of laps, plenty of questions
Marina Bay, 21 September – One and a half Singapore Grands Prix is the combined distance covered by Scuderia Ferrari’s two F2012s in the hands of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. Plenty of laps is always the first priority on a street circuit as even the best drivers need to readjust to driving within millimetres of the barriers after tackling the more forgiving normal race circuits. Formula 1 has been coming to Singapore for five years now, but the sight of the sun going down and the artificial lights brightening the night sky, making the cars’ colours seem even more vivid than usual, is still one of the most exciting moments of the season.
The start to the “morning” session was not quite as expected though, because a heavy storm prior to the start left the track surface wet enough to require the use of the Intermediate Pirellis, so an assessment of the Soft and Supersoft slicks started a bit later than usual for everyone. Fernando was fourth fastest at the end of the first ninety minutes and third in the second session and ominously, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel topped both time sheets for Red Bull, with both McLarens of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton always up there too, indicating that it’s going to be another exciting race weekend for the fans and a challenging one for the Prancing Horse. Felipe? He was unhappy with his car all day and actually, the team found something was not working as it should, come the end of the day, with the Brazilian ninth on the time sheet, but as he said himself, even with that problem resolved, there is still plenty of work to do to be competitive. Apart from indicating that the top teams are all very close, today has possibly delivered more questions than answers, with unknowns relating to tyre degradation and other factors, while thinking about strategy involves the impossible task of trying to account for the likely appearance of the Safety Car. And before then, we have the complicated task of keeping out of traffic and safely negotiating a passage through the final qualifying shoot-out tomorrow afternoon.
Singapore GP – Tyres the factor in Singapore
Marina Bay, 21 September – The second session of free practice for the Singapore Grand Prix has just finished in the amazing setting of Marina Bay. Under the circuit’s artificial lights, both Ferrari drivers managed to make the most of the time available to complete the work they started in the afternoon’s first session. At the end of the session the F2012s of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa lined up with the third (1.48.896) and ninth (1.50.039) fastest times. The session was again dominated by Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull, who went fastest with 1.48.340 ahead of the McLaren of Jenson Button, who was second with 1.48.651.
On the uneven surface of the street track, which is dominated by slow corners, Scuderia Ferrari mainly concentrated on the aerodynamic configuration of the two F2012s to ensure the best traction on the exits of the corners. As usual for a Friday, there was also a comparison between the two tyre compounds brought here by Pirelli (Soft and Super Soft) and a long run for both drivers. By the end of today’s practice a clear difference had emerged between the two Pirelli compounds in terms of lap time. That hasn’t been a major factor in the last two races but could be decisive for race strategy here at Singapore. Now the two Scuderia drivers will carry out a detailed evaluation of the data collected today ahead of the third and final session of free practice scheduled for 1800 tomorrow.
Singapore GP – Testing on different fronts on Friday
Marina Bay, 21 September – Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull was fastest on the streets of Singapore in the first free practice session for the fourteenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The German’s best lap was a 1.50.566, followed by the two McLarens of Lewis Hamilton (1.50.615) and Jenson Button (1.51.459.) Fernando Alonso was the highest placed Ferrari driver, fourth in 1.51.525, while in the other F2012, Felipe Massa was sixteenth in 1.53.080. As usual on a Friday, it was a busy session, with the two drivers working on different fronts. Fernando had aero measurement on his schedule, trying two different rear wing configurations. He did two runs on Intermediates at first, as the track was still wet from an earlier tropical storm. The Spaniard ended up running the Soft slicks, while his team-mate, apart from an in and an out lap, ran on the Soft compound, working mainly on car balance.