FP1: Leclerc heads Sainz as Ferrari set the pace in opening practice session at the Singapore Grand Prix
Ferrari continued their fine form from their home race in Monza as Charles Leclerc led a Scuderia one-two in the opening practice session in Singapore. Leclerc set the pace narrowly ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz, with championship leader Max Verstappen in third.
With the European portion of the season now complete, the drivers arrived at Marina Bay greeted by intense heat, with air temperatures at 32 degrees Celsius, as they looked to find their feet in this fast-paced street circuit.
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While many drivers opted to bolt on the hard tyres to start proceedings, a few strapped on a set of the mediums. And it was one of those medium tyre runners in Lando Norris – sporting a new ‘stealth’ mode livery and a whole host of new upgrades on his McLaren – that set the pace after the first 30 minutes of action
The drivers then made the switch to the soft tyres, but as they prepared to set some fast times yellow flags were briefly waved as a lizard made its way across the track in the second sector, much to Verstappen’s amusement.
And even though more lizards would disrupt proceedings Leclerc was able to go fastest with a time of 1m 33.350s, to lead Sainz by just 0.078s, as Ferrari showed a good turn of pace as preparations begun ahead of this weekend’s action.
Verstappen wound up third as he looks to get his first win at Singapore this weekend, while Norris impressed in his newly-upgraded car to finish fourth for McLaren, ahead of the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
LIVE COVERAGE: Follow all the action from first practice for the Singapore Grand Prix
Last year’s winner Sergio Perez was seventh, ahead of two-time Singapore GP winner Fernando Alonso, who was eighth for Aston Martin, ahead of the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda, and his former Alpine team mate Esteban Ocon in 10th.
Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll was 11th, ahead of the Alpine of Pierre Gasly, and Alex Albon – who along with team mate Logan Sargeant is sporting a new fan-designed livery on his Williams this week. Valtteri Bottas was 14th for Alfa Romeo ahead the lead Haas of Kevin Magnussen
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F1 Singapore GP: Sainz quickest from Leclerc by 0.018s in FP2
Carlos Sainz outpaced Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc in second practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, leading his Formula 1 team-mate by a scant 0.018s
The Monza pole-sitter punched in a 1m32.120s to top the session amid the soft-tyre phase of running, which withstood a siege from Leclerc despite Sainz’s inferior first and second sectors.
Being set at the same time of day as qualifying and the race, FP2 was considered the sole representative practice session as the track had cooled under the night sky.
Leclerc set the pace on the medium compound with his final run on the yellow-walled tyres, overturning team-mate Sainz’s advantage at the top by approximately a quarter of a second as the Spaniard had largely bossed the top of the timing boards in the early phases of the session.
Sainz had previously eclipsed brief headliner Fernando Alonso with a 1m33.303s, which he’d brought down to a 1m33.213s on his next flying run, but Leclerc was the first below the 1m33s bracket with his 1m32.974s.
This preceded a small break in running before the field returned to the circuit on the soft compound to simulate their qualifying runs as track conditions cooled further.
Sainz was ahead of Leclerc on the road and had to endure his opening pair of sectors being narrowly shaded by the Monegasque by a whisker, but set the benchmark of a 1m32.120s regardless.
Leclerc then suffered a snap at Turns 18 and 19 and rattled over the kerb moments before crossing the start-finish line, which cost him the small margin he’d built and left him to fall short by 0.018s.
The Ferraris took a second lap on the softs, but neither driver improved and their times remained at the top of the timing boards for the rest of the session.
George Russell got closest to them having been 0.235s off the pace, despite a few wayward moments at the wheel of his Mercedes W14. His effort chiselled Alonso out of the top three as the two-time champion had to be content with fourth in the overall order.
Four-time Singapore Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest over McLaren’s Lando Norris, who was fully equipped with the Woking squad’s latest package of upgrades.
In the meantime, the Red Bulls were unable to find any meaningful front-running pace and struggled particularly with a wayward rear. On one of his early runs on the medium tyre, Verstappen couldn’t get his RB19 to bite into the Turn 13 apex and then skated wide on the exit as he lit up the rears.