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Symmetry

September 25, 2009

The F1 roadshow rolled into Singapore this week, for the second night race. After the court hearing and decision on Monday, some decent track action was required to show everyone what F1 is supposed to be about. Instead, we got news that Renault’s sponsors called time on their deals, guaranteeing them twice as much coverage, whilst also saving them some money. For new team boss Bob Bell, what he probably wanted more than anything was a nice, anonymous, midfield-finish kind of weekend, attracting as little attention as possible.

This being F1, that’s not quite what he got. Fernando Alonso was badgered by the media to incriminate himself over last year’s race, the transcript of the interview is here, but I love this quote:

Q. But what do you say to people who say you must have known about this?

FA: Well, they can read what the FIA has issued – the resolution. It is quite clear. If it’s not understood there then they have a problem of reading.

I can’t help but like the guy for this, although I am a longtime Alonso fan, mainly as it’s down to him I got back into F1 when he showed up and started beating Schumacher. Drivers generally can’t win, they are not allowed to say anything controversial in case they offend a sponsor, but at the same time, the media goad them for a reaction. We pretty much have to rely on either Alonso or Mark Webber to say something interesting these days (unless Rubens has just had a bad result!).  Webber was typically robust in his statement about losing Briatore as a manager:

“I’ve had Flavio looking after me for 11 years now,” the Red Bull driver said. “I never looked at the contract since I signed it the first year. He has been sensational for me and I won’t work with anyone else in the future if I can’t work with him.”

So, given that Renault were unable to keep out of the spotlight off track, maybe they could get away with an uneventful Friday on-track. Sadly, that was also not on the cards. First, Romain Grosjean had food poisoning, and it looked like he might not be able to race. Then, when he did take to the track, he did just the worst possible thing. He crashed. At turn 17.

At which point, Bell probably wished he had stayed at home, and I don’t think  anyone could blame him for that.

Free practice 1 times

Pos  Driver       Team                       Time              Laps
 1.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:50.179            19
 2.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:50.356  + 0.177   22
 3.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:50.416  + 0.237   21
 4.  Alonso       Renault               (B)  1:50.567  + 0.388   16
 5.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:50.614  + 0.435   16
 6.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:50.699  + 0.520   21
 7.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:50.715  + 0.536   17
 8.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:50.815  + 0.636   15
 9.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               (B)  1:50.865  + 0.686   ù.
10.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:51.089  + 0.910   25
11.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:51.427  + 1.248   23
12.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:51.544  + 1.365   14
13.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:51.643  + 1.464   28
14.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:51.656  + 1.477   15
15.  Glock        Toyota                (B)  1:52.083  + 1.904   20
16.  Trulli       Toyota                (B)  1:52.135  + 1.956   20
17.  Fisichella   Ferrari               (B)  1:52.390  + 2.211   24
18.  Liuzzi       Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:52.905  + 2.726   23
19.  Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:53.232  + 3.053   25
20.  Grosjean     Renault               (B)  1:53.458  + 3.279    9

Free practice 2 times

Pos  Driver       Team                       Time              Laps
 1.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:48.650            31  
 2.  Alonso       Renault               (B)  1:48.924  + 0.274   27  
 3.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:48.952  + 0.302   30  
 4.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:49.098  + 0.448   31  
 5.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:49.311  + 0.661   34  
 6.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:49.317  + 0.667   14  
 7.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:49.333  + 0.683   33  
 8.  Glock        Toyota                (B)  1:49.342  + 0.692   30  
 9.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:49.358  + 0.708   28  
10.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:49.609  + 0.959   24  
11.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:49.616  + 0.966   30  
12.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:49.710  + 1.060   31  
13.  Trulli       Toyota                (B)  1:49.795  + 1.145   29  
14.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               (B)  1:49.941  + 1.291   29  
15.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:50.023  + 1.373   34  
16.  Fisichella   Ferrari               (B)  1:50.253  + 1.603   31  
17.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:50.527  + 1.877   29  
18.  Liuzzi       Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:50.605  + 1.955   28  
19.  Grosjean     Renault               (B)  1:50.972  + 2.322   17  
20.  Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:51.423  + 2.773   31  

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Vettel leads the way in second practice

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Singapore GPRed Bull’s Sebastian Vettel set the quickest time in the second Friday practice session under the lights in Singapore.

The German – who is still clinging on to his remote title hopes – beat Fernando Alonso by 0.274s, as the double champion gave his under-fire Renault team some encouragement with second place.

Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) and Nick Heidfeld (BMW) were third and fourth ahead of championship leader Jenson Button’s Brawn.

Mark Webber had been fastest for Red Bull as the early runs came to an end, but he had to sit out the second half of the session after spinning on the exit of the final corner.

The Red Bull crunched into the opposite wall and sustained significant left-side damage, causing a nine-minute stoppage and ending Webber’s day.

Heidfeld knocked Webber off the top spot as soon as running resumed following the red flag, and the BMW driver stayed on top until everyone switched to super soft tyres in the closing minutes.

The usual flurry of late changes saw first Kovalainen, then Vettel move to the top of the standings – although Button and Lewis Hamilton set sector times that hinted at big improvements only to hit traffic on their best laps.

Alonso had the same problem, losing a lot of time behind Jarno Trulli’s Toyota on the penultimate lap of the day, but he made up for it by jumping to second next time around.

Webber surprisingly remained sixth despite his crash, ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Williams and Timo Glock’s Toyota.

Practice one pace-setter Rubens Barrichello was only 11th in the second Brawn this time.

Giancarlo Fisichella had a quiet practice day for Ferrari, ending up 16th, but he was at least closer to his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was 0.3s and two places ahead.

Romain Grosjean missed the early part of the session as repairs were completed following his crash in first practice, and only managed 19th.

Pos  Driver       Team                       Time              Laps
 1.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:48.650            31  
 2.  Alonso       Renault               (B)  1:48.924  + 0.274   27  
 3.  Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:48.952  + 0.302   30  
 4.  Heidfeld     BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:49.098  + 0.448   31  
 5.  Button       Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:49.311  + 0.661   34  
 6.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:49.317  + 0.667   14  
 7.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:49.333  + 0.683   33  
 8.  Glock        Toyota                (B)  1:49.342  + 0.692   30  
 9.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:49.358  + 0.708   28  
10.  Kubica       BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:49.609  + 0.959   24  
11.  Barrichello  Brawn-Mercedes        (B)  1:49.616  + 0.966   30  
12.  Sutil        Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:49.710  + 1.060   31  
13.  Trulli       Toyota                (B)  1:49.795  + 1.145   29  
14.  Raikkonen    Ferrari               (B)  1:49.941  + 1.291   29  
15.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota       (B)  1:50.023  + 1.373   34  
16.  Fisichella   Ferrari               (B)  1:50.253  + 1.603   31  
17.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:50.527  + 1.877   29  
18.  Liuzzi       Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:50.605  + 1.955   28  
19.  Grosjean     Renault               (B)  1:50.972  + 2.322   17  
20.  Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:51.423  + 2.773   31  

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