Practice in Singapore 2009
The more I see of the Singapore circuit, the more I like it. Others may complain about the difficulty of overtaking there but that is true of every GP venue these days; apart from that, the track is varied, interesting and set in a backdrop so visually impressive at night that I can see no cause for complaint.The Singapore circuit at nightThe organizers have tried, unsuccessfully, to smooth out the surface and there are still bumps that force sparks from the underside of the cars, taking us back to the days of turbo power and super-low ride heights. Uncomfortable it may be for the drivers but it adds spectacle for the viewer. The sliding through corners on the dusty track also brings memories of earlier ages, the days when F1 cars could be driven sideways, and it all amounts to a test of driving skill and nerve that is bettered by no other circuit in the calendar.Practice demonstrated all these attractions and provided us with a few surprises, too. The speed of the Red Bull cars after the team's careful pessimism of the last few days hinted at a close battle for pole tomorrow. Both Barrichello and Button were quick and are clearly in good form to keep up their championship challenges, but the pace of the McLarens, particularly Kovalainen's, showed that their return to the front was not a flash in the pan reserved for the fast circuits.And then there is BMW - continuing their resurgence after an awful season and the announced withdrawal of the company. Kubica was eighth quickest in the first session and Heidfeld fourth in the second after having been fastest on the harder tires. If the team is trying to show that the company is making a Honda-like mistake in its departure, it could hardly be doing a better job.Ferrari, Williams and Toyota struggled on this circuit and will do well to make it as far as Q3 tomorrow. Rosberg and Glock did manage to break into the top ten today but they were late runs on soft tires, mainly for morale-boosting purposes. Fisichella's times were disappointing until Raikkonen's were noticed. Both drivers looked quick but the times showed that the car is a handful, Kimi finishing only 14th and Giancarlo three tenths down in 16th.Force India's late season charge has faded now that the speed tracks are behind us, just as we expected, but Sutil brought some comfort in being quicker than the Ferraris. And the Toro Rossos remained at the rear.The departure of two major Renault sponsors was the news of the moment, the cars suddenly looking a bit naked as empty spaces appeared amongst the decals, but at least the team will be able to attend to its horrendous color scheme now. That awful orange can go, for a start.Say what you will about Fernando Alonso (and I am no fan), the man can drive. The Renault continues to be less than the best car in the game but Nando can wring its neck to produce continual surprises. He was magnificent in practice, sliding everywhere, hanging out the tail and brushing the walls; his second fastest time of the day was earned without assistance from devious plots in the pits.Come qualifying, of course, it is unlikely that he will stay so close to the front. Fuel levels will enforce reality upon him and he can expect a place in Q3 at best. The front runners will be the Brawn, Red Bull and McLaren teams and it is anyone's guess which will grab pole position. I think it will be a Brawn but you know how wayward my predictions turn out to be!
Well, the singapore practice certainly reinforced a thought I've been having recently. In that I'm really not sure that the three-part qualifying we currently have will work with a larger grid as we will apparently have next year. Traffic was a constant problem throughout the session (The amount of aborted laps was absurd) and trying to imagine a 26 or 28 car field trying to all set good times in a 20 minute period just doesn't really work to my mind.
Hi Clive yeah sing is visually certainly by night an absolut highlight. Hamiltons commentary on turn 10 actually being more dangerous reminds me of Damon Hill 96 in Italy driving straight into his own requested tire wall. Barrichello crashing out whilesr 5th enabling him to start the race from tenth hm... Sing Is the Place for conspiracies :-)
Any poor bugger who crashes out of this race better hope to hell his partner doesn't profit.
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