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Lewis Hamilton
Kerbs cause problems as Vettel and Alonso set pace in Singapore
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Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Sep 2011   |  6:48 pm GMT  |  18 comments

The race organisers are putting in an all-night stint with a massive programme of works to remedy problems with the kerbs following the first day of practice in Singapore.

The plastic kerbs, in only their fourth year of use, were lifting up with retaining bolts raising out of the ground, due to the forces the cars are putting on them.

Tonight most of the kerbs are either being removed or bonded to the ground. The kerbs at turns 3, 5, 10 and 17, for example, are being removed and markings are being painted on the ground. The kerbs are of a similar kind to those used at Indianapolis on the road course, which lasted for seven years. It is not clear what has happened to the Singapore units to cause the problems we saw today.

Meanwhile last year’s main protagonists Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso set the pace at the front.

It was an interesting day’s running, with first practice cut short by half an hour as two kerbs highlighted as a problem by Pirelli were removed and then later in the session another kerb lifted after Felipe Massa ran over it. Mark Webber hit Timo Glock, thinking that the Virgin driver was letting him through, but the German wasn’t aware he was there. Webber’s front wing was damaged.

In the second session we saw the usual hot laps on the faster supersoft tyre and then long runs on the same tyre to assess its race performance. It looks pretty good.

It appears that for the front runners, the race will be mainly run on the supersoft tyres, with a final stint on softs and Pirelli predict that the leaders will do a sprint strategy of three stops, possibly two, depending on safety cars. The supersoft looked like it was about a second a lap faster than the soft and Vettel managed 16 laps on it with little in the way of degradation. On the first hot lap he was two tenths faster than Alonso and his long run pace was similar to the Ferrari’s.

The pair look closely matched, both having a good record around this circuit. Hamilton too should be there or thereabouts in qualifying and the race. Alonso said that he felt the weekend held more promise than Spa or Monza, based on today’s evidence, but added, “We have to be realistic and not expect any great surprises. The Red Bulls are favourites here and McLaren are very strong.”

Some of the midfield runners will be looking to make only one stop on Sunday, which will work out well if there is a safety car to extend tyre life by a few laps. Toro Rosso lost valuable track time in the second session when Buemi hit the wall after just 14 laps and Alguersuari was called in after a similar number of laps having hit the kerbs very aggressively.

Renault tried a new bodywork package on Petrov’s car but it caused overheating and was dropped. The car’s weakness in low speed corners looks like holding the team back this weekend, giving a chance to Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso to get among the points with some imaginative strategy work.

There were no problems with the kerbs in the afternoon, but Pirelli’s Paul Hembery said, “The bolt coming out of the kerb was a worry because if a tyre hit that it would cause an instant deflation.”

“There are some areas out on the track where the bolts are coming out of the kerbs,” said Lewis Hamilton. “They must be taking some serious force from the cars. On a couple of the corners – Turns Three, 13 and 14 – the exit and apex kerbing has been removed, so some drivers were using the extra track.

“We don’t yet know whether or not the kerbs will be reinstated tonight, so I continued driving as though the kerbs were there. If they’re not replaced, then we should gain an extra couple of tenths by being able to run as wide as some of the others did.”

Hamilton’s team mate Jenson Button had a difficult day, not managing to get a lap on the faster tyre after locking up and being unable to reverse out of where the car came to rest.

The gaps in the field between front and back and even front and midfield are very big, with a nine second spread separating the fastest and slowest cars, one of the largest gaps of the season.

SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX, Practice 2
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m46.374s 33
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m46.575s + 0.201 28
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m47.115s + 0.741 22
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m47.120s + 0.746 23
5. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m47.265s + 0.891 28
6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m48.418s + 2.044 27
7. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m48.866s + 2.492 32
8. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m49.578s + 3.204 27
9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m49.730s + 3.356 29
10. Jenson Button McLaren 1m49.751s + 3.377 10
11. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m49.792s + 3.418 14
12. Bruno Senna Renault 1m50.241s + 3.867 31
13. Paul di Resta Force India 1m50.345s + 3.971 8
14. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m50.399s + 4.025 29
15. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m50.790s + 4.416 28
16. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m50.897s + 4.523 24
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m50.937s + 4.563 30
18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m51.950s + 5.576 26
19. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m52.257s + 5.883 15
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m52.489s + 6.115 25
21. Timo Glock Virgin 1m53.579s + 7.205 25
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m54.649s + 8.275 25
23. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1m54.754s + 8.380 29
24. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m55.198s + 8.824 26

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18 Comments
  1. Rob Newman says:

    An interesting Friday. Hamilton looked very calm before the start of FP1. Probably because he doesn’t have to worry about the championship anymore and that pressure is gone.

    But overall the McLaren guys were a mess. Hamilton’s driving especially in the FP2 was shabby and Button was lost.

    Vettel must be the person under pressure but he looked very calm, relaxed and didn’t make any mistakes compared to the other front runners.

    With the difference between the front and back runners so big, it will be interesting to see how many will not make the 107% rule.

  2. goferet says:

    Those Singapore kerbs & bolts, I suspect they must be made in China, you understand *wink*

    Anyway, I had high hopes of a Mclaren pole this weekend but from today’s running, it appears that dream is over. Meh, that Red Bull is super fast every where!

    And the worst thing Hamilton can do is qualify just behind Vettel seeing as he has never won starting P2 right behind Vettel.

    I still think this race has all the hallmarks of chaos come Sunday & the only driver that usually comes out on top under such conditions is no one but … The Frome Flier!

    OMG!!! If Red Bull dares win the 2012 Australian Grand Prix, I will forgo the entire 2012 season. I have enough of the Vettel circus!

    NB:

    It’s a promising sign from Senna, he has out performed Petrov in both sessions!

    1. Quercus says:

      They’re trying to fix into tarmac which is relatively soft, rather than anything more substantial like concrete.

      They need many more fixings, spreading the load over a wider area, because I suspect this year the suction created by the blown diffusers at the point where they’re going over the kerbs (and I would guess are off throttle) is probably much greater than in previous years. It shouldn’t be such a problem next year.

      1. Paul says:

        The suction is nothing compared to the vertical loading caused by the down-force, which is an order of magnitude higher.

        I suspect they just weren’t up to specification in a very hot humid climate…

      2. Quercus says:

        By ‘suction’ I meant “the vertical loading caused by the down-force”. They’re the same thing.

        Downforce produced by ground effect sucks the car down to the track and will pull up anything on the track surface that isn’t firmly attached.

    2. Kristiane says:

      The kerbs in China Shanghai GP had no problems,[mod]

  3. Quercus says:

    I’m not keen on Singapore.

    It all looks the same on TV — all grey barriers and fences — blast up the straights then hard on the brakes into 90 degree corners. And the lighting is flat and dull with all the cars top-lit like a works canteen. I guess I’ll still find my self watching, though.

    I hope it’s one of the races they miss on the BBC next year.

    1. Andrew Halliday says:

      I’d like to see more running during the day as it reminds me of the Adelaide street circuit.

    2. DrPaul says:

      I totally agree. It winds me up to hear all the commentators saying how spectacular the circuit looks. It may do, if you’re actually there and can look up at the cityscape in the background. However, on T.V. it looks like they’re racing round a car park, what with all those concrete barriers, wire fences and artificial lighting. The organisers and commentators, really should take some time to look at how it appears on camera at night and they may then see what we all see.
      Other than that ridiculous chicane with the dangerous car-launching kurbs, this track has no redeeming features at all.

      One for Sky, for sure!

  4. Ross says:

    James.

    As you rightly highlighted the gap between the front and the midfield/back is huge.

    Is this largely due to the demands of the circuit or is F1 now starting to emulate football and the rich are just getting richer and moving way ahead of everyone else.

  5. paulusa says:

    To me, the most interesting thing about the second half of the season is that Michael seems to be sustaining his reversal of form against Nico.

  6. DB says:

    107% = 1m53.820 = 21 cars in grid. The morning was similar. Someone will work late today… ¦¬)

    1. seifenkistler says:

      As long as none of the top teams is forced to use supersofts: the 107 will be taken from soft and not supersoft times. So the slower using supersoft and probably able to do it ?

  7. JohnBt says:

    KInda disappointed with the kerbs fiasco. Hope they’ve done a proper job overnight. Consolation was the weather, dry and humid.

    Vettel chances of winning the race is very high, Alonso still need to find Ferrari’s sweet spot if he wants to win in Singapore again, but podium chances can’t be ruled out. Hope Lewis, Button and Webber put up a good fight too.

  8. Pranav Haldea says:

    Awesome to see that things are not always perfect in Singapore..:-P

  9. James F says:

    I bet Vettel has a great qualifying, but Webber’s kerbs will stop working in Q3….

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