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Singapore: Motor racing-Barrichello fastest after Grosjean crashes

Motor racing-Barrichello fastest after Grosjean crashes

SINGAPORE, Sept 25 - Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was fastest in floodlit first free practice for the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday ahead of Brawn GP team mate and championship rival Jenson Button.

In a session that was briefly halted when French rookie Romain Grosjean crashed his Renault at the same corner where Nelson Piquet deliberately smashed into the wall a year ago, Barrichello lapped in one minute 50.179 seconds.

Barrichello trails Button by 14 points in the standings with four races left.

The Brawns, who completed a one-two finish at the last race in Monza, appear to have rediscovered their early season dominance ahead of Sunday's night race.

Briton Button lapped 0.177 seconds slower than his team mate with Red Bull's Mark Webber, his title hopes hanging by a thread, third fastest in 1:50.416.

Fernando Alonso, the winner of last year's scandal-tainted race, shrugged off the withdrawal of Renault's main sponsors a day earlier by clocking the fourth fastest time in a car hastily stripped of its ING and Mutua Madrilena markings.

The McLarens of Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton also looked competitive, the pair clocking the sixth and seventh fastest times behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel is third in the championship, 26 points behind Button and 2.5 ahead of Webber.

Force India's Adrian Sutil, who qualified on the front row at the previous race in Italy and finished fourth, was 12th quickest.

His former team mate Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, now preparing for his second race for outgoing champions Ferrari, was only 17th.

The highlight of the session was the amazing flashback to the Piquet crash in that inaugural 2008 race, with Grosjean losing control on turn 17 of the Marina Bay Street Circuit and slamming into the opposite wall.

The Renault brushed the wall with its rear, spinning and hitting the barriers opposite.

Renault were handed a suspended permanent ban for race-fixing earlier this week after Piquet confessed to crashing on purpose last year in a plot to help Alonso win after the safety car was deployed.

Grosjean, who replaced Brazilian Piquet in August and was passed fit only on Friday morning after feeling unwell on Thursday, had completed nine laps when he crashed. He has not previously raced at the track.

The circuit was cleared nine minutes after the crash and practice resumed with 36 minutes remaining. A second session will take place at 9:30 p.m.

Motor racing-Barrichello fastest after Grosjean crashes - Yahoo! Singapore News
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