Rounding off Friday under the Singapore stars, Lewis Hamilton topped the time sheet for the first time this weekend. Another impressive run by Fernando Alonso saw the Spaniard take second place, whilst Rosberg slumped down the order.
There was a smaller than usual break between the two Friday practice sessions in Singapore today. This decision was made in order to help replicate the conditions the drivers will experience over the weekend in qualifying and the race on Sunday.
In the opening practice session earlier today it was Fernando Alonso who topped the time sheet with the two Mercedes coming in behind. Red Bull expect to be more competitive with the Silver Arrows this weekend and they themselves finished 4th and 5th. However Vettel suffered a late engine failure and was forced into switching to the race engine for FP2. Usually this change would be carried out overnight and put in the car ready for FP3 tomorrow.
When the red light switched to green to mark the start of the second free practice session, Marcus Ericsson headed straight out. Very understandable decision by Caterham following the drivers extremely limited running in FP1.
Ericsson was joined early on out on track by Max Chilton. Despite the Brit felling “slow and heavy” downshifts, he was able to lap the streets of the Marina Bay Street Circuit almost a second faster than Ericsson. However his time was soon pushed down the order by the Force India’s, McLaren’s and Sauber’s.
As the session began to progress, the times began to fall. Magnussen’s early table topping 1:51:644 would soon only be good enough for 12th place. But at the top, a battle between Alonso and the Mercedes was back underway with the Red Bull’s just behind. Hamilton had taken the top spot after quarter of an hour. But he was only able to hold on for a minute with Rosberg going over a second faster. From that point on it was battle mode engaged with Alonso moving above Hamilton for second.
With Hamilton over a second off the pace, he was just another driver to run wide out of turn 7. But this was the least of his worries as he claimed his car was “all over the place”. Although there are now restrictions on what can be said over team radio between the driver and the pit wall, the team suggested trying a different differential setting to help Hamilton with the control of the car.
The same went for Hamilton’s team-mate, as Rosberg also experienced the new team radio restrictions. Nico’s situation was far different to Lewis’ with Rosberg asking if he was allowed to be told his team-mate’s lap time. However he was only allowed to be told he was the fastest overall, holding a three tenth gap to second who was not his team-mate.
Now with the first half an hour out of the way, drivers began to switch onto the faster, super soft tyres. One of those drivers who had changed to the red branded Pirelli tyres was Sergio Perez. With the Mexican driver finding a huge instant gain to move to the top spot, and be the first to complete a 1:48 lap time.
The next time to take the top spot in FP2 was by Daniel Ricciardo. The Aussie in the Red Bull lapped the Singapore streets with a 1:47:790 to be the first to breach the 1:47 mark, just minutes after Perez broke the 1:48 mark. But not only was Daniel the first to break into the 1:47’s, he also beat the circuit lap time record (1:48:574). Which was held by his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, since setting it in 2013.
Over the next five minutes, drivers continued to lap the Marina Bay circuit without any issues. Well that was until Pastor Maldonado crashed his Lotus at Turn 10 and brought out the first red flag of the weekend. After entering the corner with far too much speed, the Venezuelan made direct contact with the wall and wrecked his Lotus.
It took the marshals a couple of minutes to clear away the debris from Maldonado’s car but with 40 minutes remaining, the session was back underway. And with the session back underway, Hamilton was back on the top spot.
A 1 minute 47.490 was enough to push his Mercedes ahead of Ricciardo’s Red Bull before the Brit returned to the pits. Also improving following the brief break were the Ferrari’s. Alonso was able to make his way to fourth and slot in, three hundredths behind Raikkonen. But from that point onwards, race simulations began to roll out and the times began to slow down.
Nico Hulkenberg was forced into dealing with the new restrictions on team-radio messages over this period when he wanted to know about his pace. Unfortunately, all the team could tell him is that he needed to find six tenths of a second, but could not say where this could be found.
Entering the final 10 minutes of the session, Sebastian Vettel finally had his chance to hit the track in FP2 following his engine change. After the team filled his car with fuel, his first lap time was a 1:48:115 on the supersoft tyres. Considering it was his lap of the session, Vettel’s time was extremely impressive. However, by that time of the session, the track had rubbered in from all the other drivers running,
But whilst Vettel was waiting to hit the track, Max Chilton was forced to stop out on track at Turn 18. The Marussia driver was forced to make his way back to the garage after a turbo problem struck. However whilst making his way back to the garage, he was forced into pulling over to the side of the track following his engineer warning him of a fire.
Come the chequered flag, the order at the top remained the same with drivers finishing off their race simulation stints. Similarly to FP1, Mercedes and Ferrari occupied the top spots but following Rosberg’s poor session Red Bull crept into the top 3. As for Williams they continued to look unimpressive in Singapore. This time round, their highest driver was Massa who secured 17th place, ahead of Bottas. But 2 seconds off the pace.
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:47.790||0.300||28|
|5||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:48.041||0.551||5|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:48.653||1.163||30|
|9||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:48.751||1.261||31|