The lights of Singapore's Marina Bay circuit were flicked into action today for the opening day of practice ahead of Sunday's Grand Prix.
Tonio Liuzzi used the two 90 minute sessions, which both experienced red flag periods, to familiarise himself with the twists and turns of the 23-turn, 5.067km circuit, which he had never driven before today. He steadily bettered his times over the day as he got to grips with both the track and the VJM02 in high downforce configuration. The Italian posted the 18th quickest time in both sessions.
Adrian Sutil used the morning to evaluate the new aero upgrade package available this weekend, which features floor, diffuser and bodywork modifications, however he was frustrated by traffic on his flying laps and finished a disapppointed 12th quickest. The afternoon proved a little more rewarding as he was able to complete his practice programme of long and short runs and tyre evaluation, but he still lost out to traffic to finish the afternoon in 12th position.
Adrian Sutil: I was quite pleased with the car but it is difficult to judge the rear grip as we are still having some problems with graining, particularly on the soft tyre compound. We still have a lot of work to do but it's only Friday. I think we can do much better and get a bit closer to the front. I feel I could definitely have done a quicker lap time as the traffic was really bad and I always lost my first and second laps. I still believe we can get into the points and we would still like to be in the top 10 in qualifying; that's obviously our goal for the weekend.
Tonio Liuzzi: It was quite OK today. The most important thing for me was to learn the circuit and get used to the track, the bumps and the kerbs and I think we are going in the right direction. We struggled a little with the balance, which didn't help, but we did a lot of tests and tried to understand the tyres. I think we were on a good learning curve and tomorrow will be much, much better. We have a lot of work to do as we are not spot on with the balance just yet, but we have all night to think about it!
Dominic Harlow, chief race engineer: For the start of Friday practice today the track here in Singapore was quite green and dusty. It was therefore low grip with a bit of an oversteer balance and this was the target for initial set-up work, as well as stabilising the various car systems for race conditions. Tonio used the first session for some familiarisation, as he had not driven here before today, and Adrian looked at some development components. In the second session our tyre comparisons and set-up work continued. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but our performance in race trim already looks promising.