Sebastian Vettel justified his favourite tag for the Singapore Grand Prix when he stormedclear of his rivals in yesterday’s second free practice, lapping more than half a second quicker than Red Bull Racing team mate Mark Webber.
The German triple world champion is 53 points ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso heading into tomorrow’s race and his dominant display around the Marina Bay Street Circuit suggests he will extend his already sizeable
Vettel, who is seeking a third successive victory in Singapore as he bids to move close to sealing his fourth world championship, clocked an unchallenged one min, 44.249 secs to leave all but Webber more than a second adrift.
The Australian, who is retiring from Formula One at the end of the season, finished 0.604 seconds off the pace with theMercedes-GP duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton enjoying a return to a high downforce track by securing the next two places.
Rosberg was 1.009 seconds down on Vettel in the second 90-minute session with Hamilton marginally slower after theBriton had been quickest in the first practice session ahead of the two Red Bulls.
When asked if he expected to be so far ahead of his rivals, Vettel offered a cautious response.
“No, it was a bit of a surprise,” the 26 year old said.
“I think we are quick but I think Mercedes will be very, very competitive tomorrow when we go into qualifying.”
Vettel believes today’s qualifying session, which begins at 4pm UAE time, will be crucial to deciding the outcome of tomorrow’s race.
“We know that overtaking is not the easiest of things here, so much will depend on qualifying and your race strategy,” he said.
Mercedes have often toiled on a Friday when it has come to setting up their car, yet found dramatic performance on a Saturday afternoon, something supported by the eight pole positions the team have won — five for Hamilton and three for Rosberg.
Hamilton acknowledged it would be a tall order for him to get the better of Vettel in today’s qualifying session.
“It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t the best but a normal Fridayfor us,” the 2008 world champion said. “I think it (the gap) will reduce slightly perhaps but I might be wrong. As always every Friday night we have to try and pull a miracle out from nowhere, so we will have to do the same.”