After an eventful week off the track the F1 circus finds itself in Singapore. Lewis Hamilton has been saying all week that this circuit is going to favour Ferrari and Red Bull and that’s proved to be the case so far in first and second practice.
The first practice session in Singapore was a promising one for Red Bull and at one stage it looked as if they were going to be getting a 1-2 at the end of it. Daniel Ricciardo was fastest but Sebastian Vettel finished second ahead of Max Verstappen with championship leader Lewis Hamilton back in fourth.
Ricciardo was 0.109 seconds ahead of the Ferrari driver who was just 0.012 seconds in front of Verstappen. Hamilton was 0.451 seconds adrift of Ricciardo but the gap isn’t perhaps that wide as his time was set at a time when the track wasn’t quite as fast. Segio Perez was fifth in his Force India with the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas down in sixth after having a few rear grip problems and Kimi Raikkonen in seventh.
It’s been a key week for McLaren with the impending end of their relationship with Honda. They are hoping to have a better than average weekend in Singapore with engine power not being such a major factor. Fernando Alonso set the eighth fastest time in first practice with Stoffel Vandoorne back in 11th.
This first session was held in daylight and that’s not the situation as the weekend progresses. Both qualifying and the race itself will be held at night time.
It was more of the same in the second practice session with Ricciardo again fastest and this time Red Bull did get its 1-2. Verstappen was 0.556 seconds behind his team-mate with Hamilton getting the better of Vettel this time finishing in third 0.147 seconds behind Verstappen.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth and good news for Renault as Nico Hulkenburg grabbed fifth. McLaren’s promising weekend continued with Vandoorne in sixth and Alonso seventh. It wasn’t a happy session for Vettel who could only manage 11th. Early on he got caught in traffic and it didn’t get any better in the second run as he ended up spinning into the barriers. Overall it was a session that Ferrari will want to forget as Raikkonen could only finish ninth fastest
Ricciardo can certainly be pleased with his work today. In the second practice session, he had that half a second gap over the others on the short runs and longer race simulation runs. Hamilton may not be too hopeful of keeping his lead this weekend but over the race-simulations he was second fastest.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at how qualifying goes and next weekend I’ll take a good look at the changes announced this week re new engines for McLaren and Toro Rosso and the arrival next season of Carlos Sainz at Renault. Till then, enjoy your racing.