The last stint of the season, all of it contested far from Europe, got underway today against the unusual, yet always appealing backdrop of Marina Bay, the part of Singapore that hosts the fourth edition of the eponymous Grand Prix, the first to be run entirely under artificial lighting. Because of problems with some kerbs, the first session was shortened by 30 minutes.
Nevertheless, the two 150º Italias racked up over 330 kilometres, divided more or less equally: 39 laps for Fernando Alonso and just two fewer for Felipe Massa.
Fernando Alonso: “The first session was interrupted so often that, along with the shortened time, it meant we could not do as many laps as we would have liked. So we tried to make the very most of the ninety minutes available in this evening’s session and at least, this time, everything went smoothly. Overall, I am pleased with what we were able to see today. Here, like Monaco, it’s very important for a driver to be able to lap enough to find the ideal reference points to be able to push to the limit, but not one centimetre over it, because every mistake is very costly. Racing at night is always a special feeling: it usually takes a little bit of time to adapt, but then, from tomorrow onwards, you can push to the maximum, trying to find the best performance. The car is behaving more or less as we expected and the feeling from this Friday is definitely better than in Monza and Spa, but we have to be realistic and not expect any great surprises: the Red Bulls are still favourites here and McLaren are also very strong. We will try and make the most of every possible opportunity.”
Felipe Massa: “Heat was the main feature today and there was plenty of it in the cockpit! From what we could see, tyre degradation is reasonably high, but we know the track condition can change given it was very dirty today. It will also be important to choose the right level of cooling for the brakes and the engine: the race will be very long and tough, both for the drivers and the cars. I think we are in better shape than at the last two races and, who knows maybe we can fight with the McLarens, but we must wait and see what happens tomorrow. The performance difference between the Soft and Supersoft today seemed very high, especially for us, but that’s not to say it will be the same on Saturday: the track will rubber in and the situation could change. Here you have to pay great attention to your driving: today I kissed the barrier, fortunately without any consequences!”
Pat Fry: “As usual on Friday, we had a busy programme to get through: unfortunately, partly because of the unexpected and sudden reduction of the length of the first session and also due to a few small blips that slowed our work, we did not manage to get through everything we wanted to. We have a few new components on the car: some produced the results we expected, but others still need some work. Taking into account the usual considerations when it comes to evaluating Friday’s times, it seems that we are back to being closer to the situation we had seen prior to the summer break. Not that we needed to be told, but we saw today just how hard this track can be on the cars: just as at Monaco, the slightest slip comes at a high price. Therefore, one has to be very careful not to go over the limit. One very important factor will be tyre behaviour: in the race it will be crucial to find the best moment to make the pit stops.”