Drivers in action during the first practice session for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix night race in Singapore yesterday. The Singapore Grand Prix is the only race on the F1 calendar that is held under lights. The Singapore Grand Prix will remain on the F1 calendar through at least 2017, after race organisers signed a contract extension with Formula One management on the eve of the 2012 event.
SINGAPORE: McLaren confirmed yesterday they are open to the shock return of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in what would be one of Formula One’s most sensational coups.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said he would love to sign the two-time world champion, who had an unhappy season at McLaren in 2007, and even suggested the Spaniard could arrive as early as next season.
“Yes, if I could,” Whitmarsh told Britain’s Sky Sports News, asked if he would bring back Alonso. “Most teams up and down the pitlane would happily sign Fernando Alonso, he’s a very talented driver.
“I expect our driver line-up for next year to stay the same but we are open to anything and in the long term he would be a great asset.
“Fernando is in charge of his own destiny, but we’ll see.”
What started as a speculative rumour has gathered pace in Singapore after Whitmarsh and McLaren driver Jenson Button both sung the praises of Alonso, world champion in 2005 and 2006.
Alonso is reported to be unhappy at Ferrari’s decision to hire another former world champion, Kimi Raikkonen, as his racing partner next season.
And McLaren are yet to confirm contracts for either of their drivers, Button and Mexico’s Sergio Perez, for 2014, although the Briton says his deal for next year is a formality.
Whitmarsh said both drivers were likely to stay with McLaren next year but he said it was not impossible that Alonso could be racing with the British team.
“Let’s be frank, people want to sign Fernando Alonso because he is one of the best motor-racing drivers in the world at the moment. He is an asset to any team,” Whitmarsh told Sky.
“In all probability, we will have the same line-up next year. Being realistic that’s what I think will happen, but we’ll see.”
Alonso earlier dismissed suggestions that he’s unsettled by Raikkonen’s arrival at Ferrari after the Italian team decided to part ways with the inconsistent Felipe Massa.
“I was always informed about the team movements... when they decided to change Felipe they asked my opinion and I told them Kimi was the best out there in the market,” he said on Thursday. Alonso had a difficult relationship with team-mate Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2007, a season which was also marked by the damaging “Spygate” scandal involving the leaking of technical information. REUTERS
Vettel dominates Singapore practice
SINGAPORE: Sebastian Vettel justified his favourite tag for the Singapore Grand Prix when he stormed clear of his rivals in yesterday’s second free practice, lapping more than half a second quicker than Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.
The German triple world champion is 53 points ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso heading into the weekend and his dominant display around the Marina Bay Street Circuit suggests he will extend that advantage in tomorrow’s night race.
Vettel, who is seeking a hat-trick of victories in Singapore this week as well as a hat-trick of wins since he finished third in Hungary in July, clocked an unchallenged one minute 44.249 seconds to leave all but Webber more than a second adrift.
The Australian, who is retiring from Formula One at the end of the season, finished 0.604 seconds adrift of Vettel with the Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton enjoying a return to a high downforce track by securing the next two places.
Rosberg was 1.009 seconds down on Vettel in the second 90-minute session with Hamilton marginally slower after the Briton had been quickest in the first practice session ahead of the two Red Bulls.
Both sessions were fairly incident free especially with the infamous ‘Singapore Sling’ turn 10 chicane less of a threat after track officials took heed of driver complaints.
Only a few drivers brushed the wall on the exit and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado was the only car to suffer any major damage when he crumpled his front wing after overshooting turn 13.
However, Vettel was virtually perfect throughout both sessions and once his Red Bull was unleashed on the super soft option tyres, there was only ever going to be one outcome on a circuit tailor made for his style and the car’s strengths.
After two difficult weekends on the low downforce circuits in Belgium and Italy, Mercedes are hoping for a marked improvement on a high downforce layout.
Hamilton won in Hungary, another tight and twisty circuit, while team-mate Nico Rosberg was victorious in Monaco, the slowest of all.
The German team’s confidence was quickly backed up by Hamilton in the first 90-minute session of the weekend with the 2008 world champion saying “the circuit feels twice as grippy as last year” over the team radio after setting the quickest lap. While not lapping as quickly as the Red Bulls and with Hamilton defying a team call to change to medium prime tyres late in the second session, Mercedes will be buoyed by their performance and can expect to challenge for pole position in qualifying today. Reuters