Singapore: Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel shrugged off the disappointment of failing to finish in Monza by dominating both free practice sessions for the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday.
An alternator problem ended his Italian Grand Prix challenge two weeks ago but the German, who won this race last season, had no such problems around the streets of Singapore and offered evidence that he can reignite his title challenge this weekend.
Vettel trails championship leader Fernando Alonso by 39 points with seven rounds remaining and a repeat of Friday’s performance in qualifying and in the race on Sunday will help the 25-year-old make inroads into the Spaniard’s advantage.
McLaren came into the race on the back of three straight victories and are considered the team to beat but Vettel edged out Lewis Hamilton in the first 90-minute session and the Briton’s team mate Jenson Button in the second.
Two hours after a tropical downpour had soaked the track in the mid-afternoon, the drivers took to the demanding 23-turn street circuit with Vettel clocking the fastest lap of 1 minute 50.566 seconds late in the session.
Hamilton lapped 0.049 seconds slower than Vettel as his McLaren continued to display the pace that has carried him to two victories in three races. Button was third fastest, 0.893 seconds off the leader.
In the second session, Vettel went even faster, clocking 1 minute 48.340 to finish 0.311 seconds ahead of Button with Alonso showing his liking for a track where he has won twice by lapping a little more than half a second slower than the leader.
Meanwhile, Sahara Force India’s Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg finished in the top 10 in both opening practice sessions.
Hulkenberg was seventh in the first free practice with a timing of 1:51.658 while Di Resta finished a place behind after clocking 1:51.943.