Notebook – Singapore Practice

Features Notebook

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen topped the times in Friday’s practice sessions for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.

In FP1, Ricciardo set a 01:39.7 on the hypersofts to put himself two tenths ahead of his teammate Max Verstappen, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel third. While in FP2, Raikkonen was fastest by one-hundredth of a second over the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton after setting his fastest time early on using the Ultrasoft tyres.

Ferrari went in the wrong direction

Sebastian Vettel says that Ferrari made some set-up changes in the second practice session which did not work. Vettel’s FP2 session also saw the Ferrari driver session end early after hitting the wall.

Vettel ended the session ninth-fastest after brushing the wall on the exit of Turn 21, abandoning his qualifying simulation lap immediately and heading to the pits. That meant that the four times champion also missed his race simulations in the latter part of the session.

Speaking to the media, Vettel said “ The lap I had up to the kiss to the wall was OK, but I wasn’t very happy with the car. In the morning [FP1], there was some phases that were really good, in the evening we tried something, maybe it didn’t work, I think we’ll probably go back but that’s normal.”

“Obviously there was a bit more than just a kiss [with the wall], then we took a precaution and decided not to run. We lost some time which is not ideal, nevertheless I’ve got a good feel for the car.”

Vettel didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the loss of track time and says that it gave him a chance to look at the data. Adding “overall the car is working, we can improve it from where it was. It’s not yet where I want it to be but for tomorrow we should be in a better place.”

Red Bull mixed results

Going into this weekend Red Bull were expected to be a very close challenger to Ferrari and Mercedes. In the warmer conditions, it appears that Red Bull had the upper hand over Ferrari, which we needed to expect given their performances in Baku and Monaco.

Daniel Ricciardo leads the pace in the afternoon/early session which you had to expect as the climate is suited to the car. Ricciardo was three tenths faster than Vettel’s pole time last year. But the night session was a bit odd as he struggled with the performance of the car, as well as Max Verstappen struggling because of an oil leak.

Verstappen said “It wasn’t the perfect day for me, we still have plenty of room to improve ahead of Qualifying tomorrow. This mornings practice felt good but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the second session. This afternoon we could have been a bit quicker over the short runs as we suffered a bit from understeer.”

I don’t think we have the pace to fight for pole so we will just try to optimise the package. The Hypersoft struggled over the long runs, it dropped off quickly. The other compounds were not so bad which could make the race interesting.”

Daniel added “It’s going to be close at the top and all three teams can be fast around here. The morning session was better for us and surprisingly we were a bit more comfortable with the hotter track. Once it cooled down this evening, we didn’t feel we were able to optimise everything.”

“It’s the toughest circuit both mentally and physically but I love it and it’s a good challenge. I’m sweating a lot but it’s worth it. I’ve prepared well and the team has brought a very good car here, so let’s hope the gap is close tomorrow.”

Mercedes expect three-way fight

Going into this weekend Mercedes have been playing down their hopes for this weekend. In FP1, the two silver arrows didn’t really show us anything really in pace compared to the Ferrari, while they went backwards in FP2.

Hamilton was closer than we might have tough in FP2, but you have to believe that this could be a tough weekend for Mercedes. Although you need to believe that they can bring that gap down potentially in the race. He told “It’s looking like it might be a three-way fight between Ferrari, Red Bull and us.”

“The first session of the day was good, even though it might not show on the timesheets as we didn’t use the Hypersoft tyres. We got through our programme, tried some different options and got some good results from it.”

Mercedes seem confident that year on year they have made gains as well as from where they were at the start of the season, with Valtteri Bottas describing it as a massive improvement. But warned “It’s extremely difficult to get the balance perfectly right on this circuit, there’s such a wide range of corners, so we have a lot of work to do. I think we have a lot of possibilities for a good result this weekend, but we need to get the car absolutely right to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull.”

Force India bring upgrades

Force India has unveiled a major upgrade to its 2018 car as the team looks to recover lost ground in the championship. The team lost all its points following the team’s takeover in August, and now the new investment has put its development programme back on track.

As it pushes for points, the team revealed major changes to its car in Singapore on Friday that it hopes will help its challenge. changes include revisions to the front wing, plus as can be seen above new mirror mountings. Also, the leading edge of the vertical element has been pushed back and arched over to meet chassis. The footplate serration has been tweaked and the number of floor strakes doubles from three to six.

Speaking about the updates, Sergio Perez said “Basically now is the time that we have to deliver. We are quite optimistic about the upgrades. Generally, Singapore is not the greatest track for us. So hopefully we can be competitive this weekend and score a lot of points with both cars.”

The Mexican believes that it would be incredible for the team to overtake McLaren. But says he is more interested to work out at the end of the season where Force India would have finished if its had not had its points up until the Belgian Grand Prix wiped away.




Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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