Singapore GP: Kvyat tops FP2 by one hundredth to Raikkonen while no Mercedes made the top three

Daniil Kvyat fastest in second free practice for the Singapore Grand Prix in his Red Bull.

In the slightly cooler, night time action in Singapore, Daniil Kvyat posted the fastest time in the second free practice session. By a gap of three hundredths of a second, Kvyat had the edge over Raikkonen and the field in the most comparable session to Sunday’s race. But things did not get off to the best start when Stevens found the wall and brought out another red flag.

During the opening practice session, Rosberg topped the time sheet leaving Hamilton and Ricciardo to chase his tail. But as the session wound down, Manor’s debutant Alex Rossi found the wall at turn 18 and brought out the first red flag of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.

The other Manor car was able to make the start of FP2 with the team still working on Rossi’s rocket. But inside the first ten minutes, the red flag was out as Will Stevens lost the rear under braking, causing him to skid into the wall at the newly modified turn 11, 12, 13 section of track.

After the restart, Mercedes and Ricciardo again topped the order with Ferrari chomping at their heels. But in a session where the teams switch from primes to options to test the waters for the race, Carlos Sainz punctured his rear-left tyre after minimal contact with the wall on the exit of turn five. The minimal contact resulted in the tyre loosing pressure and the Spaniard limping back to the pits without the need for the race to go back under the red flag.

When Raikkonen became the first driver to switch onto the supersoft tyres, the Finn found around one and a half seconds on his previous best time to move his Scuderia Ferrari into P1. Vettel also improved to go second, but his time was three tenths down on his Finnish team-mate who admitted he had made a mistake during that lap.

While the Ferrari’s went for a one-two, Hamilton carried too much speed into the first corner and took to the designated re-entry point. As for Rosberg, his first flyer saw him only move into third with a six-tenth deficit to Raikkonen. Hamilton however found time on his second flying lap to go second, two tenths down.

But while the two Silver Arrows struggled to make the same gains on the supersoft tyres, Ricciardo moved to just seven hundredths of a second off Raikkonen’s time despite Vettel holding the Aussie up slightly through turn 17. Sebastian’s moving chicane even came after Vettel asked the team to warn him of incoming cars when he felt he held Felipe Massa up due to not seeing him in his mirrors.

Kvyat joined Ricciardo in the rapid Red Bull Renault gang as he moved into the top spot on his third supersoft flying lap, creating a one tenth gap to his team-mate. Like Ricciardo, Kvyat also found traffic in his supersoft runs when a lap good enough for fifth included a feisty moment with Grosjean on the exit of the Anderson Bridge. The Frenchman’s holding up of the Russian resulted in Kvyat grumbling over the radio: “What the **** are you doing? Come on, I almost crashed”.

After Kvyat took the top spot, the focus in the paddock turned to race pace and preparing for lengthy runs in the race rather than short sprints in quali. For most, the programmes were varied as they always are. But at Mercedes, Hamilton was on a more comparable programme to Raikkonen with both lapping in the 1:51’s rather than the flying laps of 1:46.

As for Rosberg, he was consistently off the pace of the others, potentially running the car in a style to preserve the tyres for longer stints and make a two-stop strategy work on Sunday rather than the expected three stops. Another potential reason for Rosberg’s slower laps would be to gather the data to know if the tyres would last a long period should a safety car come out and the potential to run from safety car to chequered flag without another stop.

During Rosberg’s long run, the team asked for two quick laps. However the chance to see if there was any life still in the tyres for a few quick laps went away when Rosberg left it too late to brake for the turn 18 tunnel. Luckily this corner has a run off area to stop in and reverse back onto the track, but there are not many areas to do this in Singapore.

As for Jenson, he was complaining about his McLaren having no grip after a long run. But at the end of the session, his team-mate, Alonso, made the top 10 with eight place in a session topped by a Red Bull.

In fact, both Red Bull’s made the top three alongside Raikkonen while fourth was the best Mercedes could achieve. And the session topping time by Kvyat gave Red Bull their first top spot in a dry practice session since the hybrid engines were introduced.

Position Driver Gap
1 Kvyat 1:46.142
2 Raikkonen 0.039
3 Ricciardo 0.114
4 Hamilton 0.337
5 Vettel 0.345
6 Perez 0.517
7 Rosberg 0.639
8 Alonso 0.817
9 Hulkenberg 1.152
10 Verstappen 1.285
11 Massa 1.542
12 Nasr 1.613
13 Ericsson 1.653
14 Button 1.746
15 Sainz 1.870
16 Grosjean 1.954
17 Bottas 1.976
18 Maldonado 3.952
19 Rossi 10.597
20 Stevens 13.790