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VETTEL SETS PACE ON BIG DAY ONE AT 2010 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX

24 September 2010 – Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull Racing team threw down the gauntlet to their World Championship rivals with the fastest time in Friday’s practice sessions for the 2010 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX at the Marina Bay Circuit in the heart of the city.

As ticket-holders reveled in an off-track program headlined by Missy Elliott and Daughtry, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber made music for Red Bull on-track, emerging from the two 90-minute practice sessions on the 5.073 street circuit more than four-tenths of a second clear of their nearest rivals – the three other drivers in contention for the title this year.

With a damp but trying track giving the teams food for thought in the opening session, free practice two – often a fairly routine affair – turned into one of the liveliest seen this season so far. First the 2008 Singapore winner Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, then World Champion Jenson Button in the number one McLaren topped the times until Vettel raised his game in the middle part of the session.

Needing a strong result here to keep his title hopes alive, Vettel stamped his authority on proceedings with a mid-session time of 1 minute 46.660 seconds that never came under serious threat. No other driver could break the 1:47 barrier, Championship leader Webber coming closest with a lap in 1:47.287.Button and 2009 Singapore winner Lewis Hamilton were third and fifth respectively for McLaren, sandwiching Alonso’s Ferrari which stopped out on track just as he was threatening to mount a challenge.

“It doesn’t mean so much to be P1 today, as it’s only practice and there are no points available, but it’s still good to be on top and we have good pace,” said Vettel. “The weather may bring a surprise though.”

The rain that had earlier threatened to dampen proceedings swept through soon after the 25-minute qualifying session for this weekend’s two Formula BMW Pacific races, a category that has enjoyed rare success in schooling young drivers for the transition to top-flight competition.

Eurointernational’s Daniil Kyvat continued a Singapore tradition of guest drivers taking pole when the 16-year-old Russian fired in a final lap of 2 minutes 23.891 seconds, edging out Singapore-based rookie Richard Bradley, the Eurasia Motorsport driver who leads the title race by 40 points.

Earlier, in the one Porsche Carrera Cup Asia session, former champion Darryl O’Young of Hong Kong topped the time sheet for LKM Racing with a best lap of 2:39.055, three-tenths faster than reigning champion and early pace-setter Christian Menzel in the Team Starchase entry. Singapore’s Ringo Chong was quickest of the Class B non-professional drivers in sixth place overall.