Red Bull's Mark Webber was in a joking mood as he talked of how he felt about the start of the 2012 F1 Singapore Grand Prix, when he'll line up alongside Romain Grosjean.

It'll be the Lotus driver's first race back in F1 after a one-race ban for causing a major crash at Spa and a storm of criticism about the standard of driving of new drivers in the championship coming up through support series such as GP2.

Asked if he was nervous about the prospect of competing with Grosjean into the first corner of the race, Webber joked: "He better put his sneakers on if he hits me!" before adding: "He knows I've a good right hook on me, so he will stay away from me."

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Grosjean himself insisted that he was "not particularly nervous" about his return to F1 duty after having to sit out the Italian Grand prix at Monza two weeks ago.

Webber himself was not happy to finish in seventh place on the grid after qualifying. "It was a tough hour to be honest," he told the Daily Mail newspaper. "We're scratching our heads because it's not like we didn't get the maximum out of the car.

"Ultimately we're disappointed with the result - sometimes you don't like the medicine but you have to drink it, that's the way it is," he said. "But it's a long GP, plenty of strategy involved and anything can happen."

Webber is not the only one facing a slightly nervous start to the race, with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton lining up in pole position alongside another recent GP2 graduate, Williams' Pastor Maldonado, on the front row of the grid.

Maldonado has been described by his own team director Toto Wolff recently as the "unguided missile" of F1 after a string of controversial accidents in his maiden season. Maldonado has been handed ten penalties during the season to date, including three at Spa alone that left him with a ten-place grid penalty to overcome at the most recent Grand Prix at Monza.

"There are some quite interesting characters around me on the grid so I will have to be very cautious," admitted Hamilton.

However, he refused to make any direct criticism about the driver who took him out of the European Grand Prix in Valencia in a late-race collision, for which the Venezuelan received a 20-second post-race penalty.

"I'm happy for Pastor - he's taken a lot of heat throughout the year, he's obviously a talented young man" Hamilton insisted, adding: "It's great to see Williams do so well. Hope they have a strong race.

"As long as we get a good start, I think things will be in a good position," he said. "The aim is to have a good start because overtaking is difficult here and defending so much easier."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh echoed his driver's thoughts: "I hope we make a clean start," he said. "Lewis will be looking to win, of course, and as long as he gets a clean start there's no reason why he shouldn't do just that."

Weighing far more heavily on Hamilton's mind was tyre degradation, especially in the hot and humid conditions of the Singapore night time which were a challenge in themselves.

"It's roasting," confirmed Hamilton. "It's 30-something degrees and the humidity is high, we're in these thermal long tops [fire]suit on and balaclava, we're sweating like crazy. I'm drinking four or five litres a day or something silly like that. The race is going to be tough."

As for Maldonado, he was already looking further down the line in the race at where it might be possible to gain some positions:

I think it's possible to overtake here, especially because of the big tyre degradation there will be tomorrow," the Williams driver said. "It's not going to be very easy, but there are a couple of places."