Final practice for the Singapore Grand Prix topped by Max Verstappen.
Red Bull remain atop of the field at the Marina Bay Street Circuit as Ferrari come to play, with Vettel pushing Verstappen to less than a tenth. Making the fight to be fastest a three-team affair, while McLaren pick up the track improvements to emerge fourth and fifth fastest.
Final practice saw Ferrari finally join the fight to be fastest after a sub-par Friday left the Italian outfit searching for answers. Returning to their initial set-up the simulations suggested would be best, rather than the modified set-up tinkered throughout the day.
With the car returned to the baseline set-up, Raikkonen and Vettel led a frantic dart from the pit lane as the green light engaged. Taking the initial top-times as Bottas struggled for grip, lapping over a second slower than Vettel despite the German tapping the exit wall at Turn 21.
Initially, the contact appeared to have left no damage to the car. With the wall taking the brunt of the impact, and Vettel taking a chunk of paint and concrete back to the pits.
As for Red Bull’s first outing, Verstappen moved above Vettel’s initial pace as the half-hour mark approached. Creating a second window between the constructors, enough for Ricciardo to slot into as a string of personal bests moved the Australian to within 3-tenths of his team-mate.
Further gains continued to be found later into Ricciardo’s run. But following a cool-down lap and a purple first sector, red flags halted his progress after Ericsson spun at Turn 19 and left debris on the exit of the corner.
Marcus had crept through the tunnel that passes under the grandstand at a calm pace. But as he accelerated, the rear spun and caused the Swede to hit the wall. Denting the rear crash structure and taking away the rear wing supports.
Once over, the track went green with 19 minutes to go and Bottas was the first to improve as he moved up to an initial third place – four-tenths off Verstappen’s earlier pace.
Vettel, meanwhile, hit straight away to move back above the Red Bull by three-tenths of a second. Also becoming the first driver of the day to dip into the 1:41s.
With Red Flags halting play, Red Bull took the lull to carry out a mid-session set-up change with Ricciardo taking on a new ride height.
When back out, no gains could be found, however, after a side-on impact with the barrier at Turn 10 brought his run to an end.
Verstappen was also hit with late issues as his car began to change gears for itself. Although Max had been able to jump back to P1 by just seven-hundredths of a second to edge Vettel’s fastest lap of the weekend thus far.
Third place Lewis Hamilton’s early pace saw the Mercedes driver post a 1:44.230 as the rear-end continued to overstep on acceleration, leaving Lewis hesitant to get on the throttle.
Then, when Hamilton emerged for his second run, the Briton was greeted by traffic from Palmer, Kvyat and a Force India leaving Lewis with an additional chicane to negotiate and scupper his run.
That said, after Hamilton later crossed the sector one split four-tenths down, further traffic cleared as he pushed to go 3rd, 1t down on Verstappen’s benchmark.
Late track improvements as others took to the pits left McLaren shooting up the leaderboard with Alonso and Vandoorne both high in the order. Despite Stoffel’s late claims that “drivability was terrible” and causing him to back off.
After testing their latest addition in Friday practice, Force India opted to stick with its ‘stegosaurus’ shark fin winglets after Sergio Perez dubbed Friday the teams best Friday of the season so far in terms of data gathered. Hinting the team was very pleased with what the shark fin winglets were showing on the data.
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||12||1’41.829|
|6||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||11||1’42.517||0.688|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||14||1’43.010||1.181|
|11||Esteban Ocon||Force India||Mercedes||15||1’43.109||1.28|
|12||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||Renault||17||1’43.356||1.527|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Renault||17||1’43.574||1.745|