Hamilton tops first practice in Singapore

Mercedes driver ahead of twin Red Bulls in straightforward opening session at Marina Bay.

A straightforward opening practice session at Singapore’s Marina Bay circuit ended with Lewis Hamilton at the top of the timesheet, ahead of the Red Bulls of Mark Webber and third-placed Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton’s best time of 1:47.055 came with two thirds of the session gone and, with little or no improvements coming from the bulk of the front runners in the final half an hour, he finished comfortably ahead of Webber, nearly four tenths back, and eight tenths clear of championship leader Vettel. Nico Rosberg was fourth in the second Mercedes.

The session got off to a cautious start as, after installation laps, most of the field opted to remain in their garages, waiting for the backmarkers to do the job of cleaning up the dirt and laying down some rubber on the grip-free circuit.

In the end, it wasn’t a back marker that broke the silence but McLaren’s Sergio Perez, and when the Mexican logged the first time lap of 1:53.245 after half an hour, it sparked movement up and down pitlane.

Except, that is, in the half of the Lotus garage occupied by Romain Grosjean. After a single installation lap the Frenchman’s car was pushed back into the garage where his team spent much of the session working on the front end of his Lotus.

He finally emerged with 25 minutes to go and quickly worked his way up to sixth place on the time sheet, just one thousandth of a second behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

At the end of an incident-free session, the top ten was completed by Fernando Alonso in seventh place for Ferrari, with Perez eighth, Jean-Eric Vergne in ninth position and Esteban Gutierrez in tenth for Sauber.

Singapore Grand Prix 2013 – Free Practice 1 result
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:47.055
2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1:47.420 +0.365
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:47.885 +0.830
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:48.239 +1.184
5 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus 1:48.354 +1.299
6 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:48.355 +1.300
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:48.362 +1.307
8 Sergio Pérez McLaren 1:49.267 +2.212
9 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:49.348 +2.293
10 Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber 1:49.355 +2.300
11 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:49.481 +2.426
12 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:49.493 +2.438
13 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:49.510 +2.455
14 Jenson Button McLaren 1:49.608 +2.553
15 Paul di Resta Force India 1:49.887 +2.832
16 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:50.092 +3.037
17 Nico Hülkenberg Sauber 1:50.222 +3.167
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1:50.757 +3.702
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:52.359 +5.304
20 Max Chilton Marussia 1:52.673 +5.618
21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1:52.920 +5.865
22 Charles Pic Caterham 1:53.647 +6.592