It might have been different had Fernando Alonso not made a mistake and subsequently stalled his Ferrari – we might have had the first signs of a battle on our hands – but as it turned out, at the end of the opening day of practice for this weekend's 2010 Singapore Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing were left firmly ruling the roost.
It was in fact one of the stars of FP1 – Scuderia Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari – who made the early running under the Singapore spotlights in FP2, leading the way for the first ten minutes by the margin of four tenths of a second over the two McLaren-Mercedes', before Rubens Barrichello supplanted the young Spaniard atop the timesheets.
Alguersuari later had a 'moment' when he side-swiped the wall after the back end of his Ferrari-powered STR5 stepped out upon exiting of one of the Marina Bay circuit's chicanes, an incident that had arguably been coming for a while as the 20-year-old pushed visibly harder and harder.
Following Barrichello's flourish, the big-hitters then began to lay down their markers, with defending F1 World Champion Jenson Button the first driver of the weekend to dip below the 1m50s barrier in his McLaren – though the British star's new benchmark time would not stand for long, as Alonso lowered it by a further four tenths of a second for Ferrari, before fairly obliterating it a lap later still by lopping a full seven tenths off his previous effort to sit 1.6 seconds clear of current world championship leader Mark Webber.
The Australian's Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel was the next to show his hand by annexing the top spot – lapping almost a second faster than the sister RB6 in sector three – with 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton then splitting the RBRs a third of the way into the session, as Webber seemed to lack the outright pace to be able to challenge.
As Vettel continued to light up the timing screens and Button similarly reminded observers that he is a contender too by leapfrogging ahead of his own team-mate Hamilton, Adrian Sutil's practice time came to a sudden halt, as the German missed the apex at the left-hander heading into the Turn Ten chicane and fairly hammered the suspension of his Force India VJM03, causing his front-left wheel to collapse. Having lapped third-quickest in FP1, things had been looking up for FIF1, making the setback all-the-more frustrating for the Silverstone-based squad.
One driver to escape any such damage was Alonso, who was fortunate to survive a near-miss of his own with just over 20 minutes to go when he ran straight off the track, ably proving that the Marina Bay layout is capable of catching out even the very best. However, after reversing back onto the circuit, the double world champion then had the misfortune to stall his Ferrari, bringing out the yellow flags and curtailing his running there and then. Gallingly for the Oviedo native, he had been on a real flyer at the time and primed to snatch P1 when he went off.
That left Vettel and Webber to comfortably hold sway at the front – the former some six tenths clear of the latter – with Button winding up third, albeit more than a second shy of the dominant pace-setter. Alonso hung onto fourth – and his searing turn of speed in the final split will surely be a cause for concern to rivals Red Bull and McLaren ahead of qualifying and race day – with Hamilton a tenth further back in fifth.
The impressive Barrichello eventually placed sixth, ahead of the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg in the first of the Mercedes Grand Prix entries,and Renault's Robert Kubica – who lost a fair degree of running with hydraulic woes, only rejoining again less than a handful of minutes from the end – with record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher unable to replicate his FP1 form and closing out the top ten.