Red Bull and Ferrari up front with Mercedes the third-quickest outfit: these are the first impressions from the practice session which took place today at the Marina Bay Street Circuit ahead of the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix. However, there is still a long way to go and the teams are swapping around their tyre choices, denying us a straight comparison so far.
Daniel Ricciardo led a Red Bull 1-2 during the opening practice session for Formula 1’s Singapore Grand Prix on Friday afternoon. Ricciardo, runner-up around the streets of Marina Bay for the last three seasons, clocked a time of 1:39.711 on Pirelli’s new-for-2018 Hypersoft compound. That left him 0.201s clear of team-mate Max Verstappen, who took advantage of a second push lap on Hypersofts to vault Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Sebastian Vettel wound up third, ahead of outgoing team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who recovered from an off-track excursion at Turn 18 to take fourth. Renault evaluated new bargeboards and sidepod turning vanes on Nico Hulkenberg’s R.S.18 as he wound up and impressive fifth, with team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr. also running strongly in seventh.
Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas took sixth and eighth respectively as they opted against running the pink-banded Hypersoft tyres. Hamilton and Bottas both clocked their best times on the Soft compound, with Hamilton’s quickest effort coming on his third push lap, having made errors on his two prior attempts. Bottas, meanwhile, had a half spin as he exited Turn 1 but was able to swiftly recover and continue his run plan.
Ferrari 2019 recruit Charles Leclerc placed ninth for Sauber but was the only driver to make a session-ending error. Leclerc, trying to widen the arc for the Turn 13 hairpin, clouted the wall on the right-hand kink that marks the end of the Anderson Bridge section, and the misjudgement broke the front-right corner of his C37. Leclerc, whose error came during the final few minutes, was able to park his damaged car in a safe location, and accepted blame for the accident.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean rounded out the top 10, in front of Leclerc’s Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson. Force India ran an extensive upgrade package, finally made available following the team’s takeover last month, as Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon placed 12th and 15th.
They were split by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who complained of low power during a late run in the MCL33. Toro Rosso was a low-key 16th and 17th, with Pierre Gasly briefly complaining of his STR13 pulling to the left under braking, though he still finished two-tenths clear of Brendon Hartley. Williams duo Lance Stroll, via a spin through Turn 2, and Sergey Sirotkin were 18th and 19th, while Stoffel Vandoorne’s miserable spell continued as he finished at the rear of the field.
Singapore, 14 September 2018