Barrichello leads Button in first practice
|By Matt Beer||Friday, September 25th 2009, 11:31 GMT|
Rubens Barrichello beat Brawn team-mate and title rival Jenson Button to the fastest time in the opening free practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Brazilian got ahead of Button right at the end of a session that the Briton had largely commanded.
Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel took an encouraging third and fifth for Red Bull, split by Fernando Alonso's Renault.
The session was halted for ten minutes at half-distance - and with uncomfortable irony the red flag was caused by Renault's number two driver crashing at Turn 17, just as Nelson Piquet had in last year's now infamous choreographed mid-race crash.
Romain Grosjean's incident was less damaging, the Frenchman's Renault brushing the wall with its rear end as it spun under acceleration and nosed into the barriers on the other side of the road.
The stoppage came just as Button moved ahead of Webber to take the top spot, and that's where the championship leader remained until the final few minutes of the session.
Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) briefly usurped Button at the hour mark, the Finn having earlier caught a spin before his McLaren could make contact with the barriers.
But Button was soon back in front, and it was only in the last runs of the session that rivals pushed him back down the order, with Barrichello taking the top spot with a 1m50.179s.
Button was pushed right back to fifth, before reclaiming second with a time 0.177s down on Barrichello as the flag waved to end the session.
Webber ended up third, despite a late trip down an escape road, ahead of Alonso, Vettel and the two McLarens.
The slight adjustments to the track - which has been tightened slightly on some bends - had a noticeable effect on the lap times, which were five seconds slower than in the same session last year.
The crowd also had its first look at Formula 1 cars lapping Singapore in relative daylight, as with practice commencing an hour earlier than it had in the 2008 event, the first few runs took place before darkness had fallen.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:50.179 19
2. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:50.356 + 0.177 22
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:50.416 + 0.237 21
4. Alonso Renault (B) 1:50.567 + 0.388 16
5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:50.614 + 0.435 16
6. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:50.699 + 0.520 21
7. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:50.715 + 0.536 17
8. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:50.815 + 0.636 15
9. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:50.865 + 0.686 ù.
10. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:51.089 + 0.910 25
11. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:51.427 + 1.248 23
12. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:51.544 + 1.365 14
13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:51.643 + 1.464 28
14. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:51.656 + 1.477 15
15. Glock Toyota (B) 1:52.083 + 1.904 20
16. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:52.135 + 1.956 20
17. Fisichella Ferrari (B) 1:52.390 + 2.211 24
18. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:52.905 + 2.726 23
19. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:53.232 + 3.053 25
20. Grosjean Renault (B) 1:53.458 + 3.279 9
All Timing Unofficial