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RED BULLS READY TO ROAR ONCE MORE IN SINGAPORE
20 Sep, Singapore - World Champions Red Bull Racing threw down the gauntlet at Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit when Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber ended the first day’s practice for Sunday’s 2013 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX in first and second places.
Vettel was six-tenths of a second faster than his teammate but the really bad news for everyone else was the margin between the German and third-placed Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes, which was more than a second.
With Marina Bay’s Turn 10, the so-called Singapore Sling, now a single sweeping left-hander lap times were expected to drop this year – and they soon did.
Early in the second 90-minute free practice session Webber clocked 1 minute 46.157 seconds – already two-tenths of a second faster than the time Lewis Hamilton set to claim pole position for McLaren Mercedes last year.
When they changed to Pirelli’s red-walled Supersoft tyres the times really tumbled and as the teams completed their light fuel load runs, triple World Champion Vettel, winner here for the last two years, lowered the mark to 1.44.249 – faster than the best pole position time seen in Singapore, the 1:44.381 set by Vettel himself in 2011.
Earlier in the evening Jolyon Palmer claimed his maiden pole position for the first of the weekend’s GP2 races, which is scheduled for Saturday at 4:05pm.
Englishman Palmer’s #10 Carlin entry clocked 1m 53.600s to edge out teammate Felipe Nasr of Brazil by just a quarter of a second in a half-hour session interrupted by an early accident to New Zealander Mitch Evans.
Evans, the reigning GP3 champion and a protégé of Formula 1 star Mark Webber, became the first victim of the ‘new’ Turn 10 when his Arden International entry hit the wall on the outside of the left-hander shortly after the session started.
Swiss driver Fabio Leimer of Racing Engineering, who leads the championship by six points, was third-quickest but nearest rival Sam Bird’s Russian Time entry could do no better than 10th as time and the Marina Bay traffic caught the Englishman out.
In the Porsche Carrera Cup free practice session that kick-started the weekend’s racing action, title-chasing Martin Ragginger put his Team Eagle 911 GT3 Cup Car on pole position but his margin over Singapore specialist Craig Baird in the SC Global car was just a tenth of a second.
Ragginger will be hoping to go one better than last year when he also claimed the Singapore pole but finished second-best to Baird, who is not a series regular.
Reigning PCCA champion Alexandre Imperatori has had a lean season by his standards – the Swiss-German driver hasn’t won a race yet – but he is third-fastest at this stage for PCC Team Starchase, one place ahead of another front-running New Zealander – series leader Earl Bamber in the Nexus Racing Porsche.