McLaren happy with first day at Singapore
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time in Friday's free practice sessions for the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix. In the first ever night session in Formula 1 history, Lewis completed 20 laps and set a time of 1m45.518, which was the fastest time of the day.
In the second session, Lewis was second fastest with a 1m45.752 (28 laps). Heikki Kovalainen was fourth fastest in both sessions; he did 20 laps in the first practice with a best time of 1m46.463, followed by 31 laps and a 1m45.797 in the second session.
What are your first impressions of the circuit?
"Through certain corners there was lots of bottoming, and when you hit a bump it would throw the car around quite a bit - but it’s an amazing venue."
Were the lights a distraction?
"No, they weren’t an issue for me."
Was it difficult to learn the circuit?
"On my first proper run, I managed to find a half-decent line - but the car was still bottoming in places. I was able to get more comfortable with the car; on first impressions, there seems to be quite a lot of grip on the track, so you can brake quite late into the slower corners."
Is any part of the track particularly memorable?
"It’s a very physical circuit - more than I expected, actually. You need to put a lot of work into the car to get a good lap - I’d say it requires double the energy of Monaco over a single lap. One lap around here is like two laps of Monaco!"
How did you find your first laps driving in the dark?
"To be honest, racing under the lights wasn’t really a problem. The track was quite bumpy. Perhaps we should also look at the pit entry - it could be quite difficult if a driver decides to pull into the pits at the last minute. However, everything else about the track is fine."
What was the visibility like?
"The visibility was fine, to be honest - I don’t think it really makes any difference for the drivers. Same with the bumps, we’ll get used to them very fast."
Was there one part of the track that was difficult to learn?
"Not really, this place has got some difficult corners but I quite like all the sectors. It was quite a busy session today and the traffic made it a bit difficult to pull a clear lap together but it feels good when you get it right."
And the Turn 10 chicane?
Ron Dennis: "From a procedural point of view, today was a very encouraging day - which, as usual on a Friday, we spent evaluating race tyres. But I want to make a broader point: along with everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Singaporean government, and to Bernie Ecclestone, and to everyone else who has made this event possible. It's a fantastic circuit, and the added attraction of racing under floodlights has been very well achieved. It feels a little strange to be at the circuit so late, well past midnight in fact, but overall I would describe the advent of night-time grand prix racing as an excellent new development in the ongoing history of Formula 1."
Norbert Haug: "Atmospherically probably the best pictures ever seen in Formula 1. Here the World Championship does in my view a step forward and interested viewers from all over the world will recognise it in the international television broadcasts. On the track our first day was okay with good laptimes during our planned Friday programme. Compliments to the organisers, the FOM and Bernie for making this remarkable event happen."