Max Verstappen tops first free practice at the Singapore Grand Prix.
With the sun setting in Singapore, Red Bull opened practice with the third one-two at the Marina Bay Circuit. While Hamilton, Alonso and Hulkenberg trialled the Halo and Mercedes laid down the benchmark on the soft compound tyres.
Previously only two teams had secured a one-two finish in an opening practice session at any Singapore Grand PrixSingapore Grand Prix. With Mercedes and Brawn both previously securing the top two places.
Red Bull went on to join the exclusive group come the end of the 90-minute session. But prior to topping the timesheet by four-tenths of a second to the nearest rival constructor, the battle at the top remained tight.
Initially, Mercedes had sent both Rosberg and Hamilton straight out of the pits at the start of the session for their first runs. These runs saw Rosberg post the first time of the day, 20-seconds up on Hamilton. Before the halo-running Hamilton edged the Italian Grand Prix winner by half a second.
Hamilton was joined by Alonso and Hulkenberg in running the Halo during the early stages of FP1 as the drivers tested the possible vision impairments it presents on the street circuit. Although any issues it presents during the night were not tested as the structures were removed prior to nightfall.
After taking the initial lead by 20-seconds, Rosberg improved on his initial best to reduce the gap to Hamilton to three-tenths of a second. However, Nico found himself behind fellow German, Vettel, as Verstappen moved within a tenth of Hamilton for third.
The narrow gap separating the top three would then be flipped as Verstappen edged away from Hamilton and Vettel by three-hundredths of as second. But once Rosberg returned to the streets on the soft tyres, the benchmark would again be dropped – with Nico lapping eight-tenths faster than the best ultrasoft time.
Ultrasoft tyres would, however, regain the top spot from Rosberg. With Vettel firstly going top by two-tenths, followed by Ricciardo – who was now 6-tenths clear of Rosberg.
Ricciardo’s time at the top, though, was short-lived as Verstappen edged his Australian team-mate by five-hundredths of a second. Hamilton ended the session down in fourth, narrowly ahead of Rosberg, after joining his team-mate on the soft tyres.
The Mercedes drivers also had issues across the 90-minutes, with Hamilton reporting his cockpit was getting “very hot down by my right ankle”. As for Rosberg, a late mistake into turn 18 saw Nico crash into the barrier straight on – losing his front wing and forced to limp back to the pits with a puncture.
Button too had a problematic start to the session as he was forced to stop on track during his installation lap. He was, however, able to stop near to the start of the pit entry – allowing the marshals to push the McLaren back safely under a Virtual Safety Car before the team could work on his fuel system issue.
Jenson later returned to the track to claim 16th place, despite the team coming to Singapore claiming they possibly had the fourth best car for the track.
The fourth best constructor in FP1, however, was Toro Rosso. With the Italian outfit claiming seventh and eighth with Sainz narrowly behind Raikkonen.
Toro Rosso themselves came to Singapore with a new aero package on Carlos’ car. Although early running saw Sainz lapping slower than Kvyat despite the older package.
Sainz also had a moment in the pit lane as he crashed into the pit wall while exiting his garage. The narrow pit lane meant Carlos did not get the angle needed for the turn, and as he thought he could make it, he kept edging forward before scraping the wall and clipping the corner of his front wing.
Grosjean’s Haas was garage bound for most of the session with a flat battery. With Romain informed “it’s just draining the battery because it’s trying to spin the turbo” before the team parked the car.
|7||Carlos Sainz Jr.||28||1’46.936||1.113|
|22||Romain Grosjean||2||No time set||—|