Notebook – Singapore Practice

Features Notebook

Daniel Ricciardo was fastest in both of Fridays practice sessions for this weekends Singapore Grand Prix. In FP1 the Australian was a tenth faster than his former team-mate Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Max Verstappen.

While in FP2 Ricciardo was half a second ahead of Verstappen with Mercedes Lewis Hamilton third fastest

Red Bull lead the way

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo says he believes that his Red Bull team could have a dominating weekend. The Australian driver has had a strong start topping both practices in Singapore, where they were expecting to go strong.

After FP2, Ricciardo said he wasn’t surprised by the early form and says the team has every chance of maintaining an advantage. He said “I expected this, to be honest. I knew we’d come here with a good car, I feel prepared, so I’m not surprised with our performance today.”

“It’s important that we obviously keep that tomorrow but I have a lot of faith we can stay there all weekend. I know the challenge tomorrow will potentially be stronger from Ferrari and Mercedes, but I’m confident we can stay there.”

Max Verstappen says the reason he was so far off the pace of Ricciardo in FP2 was because Haas’s Romain Grosjean spun bringing out the yellow flags. The Dutchman says that he has more to come and he needs to fine-tune his car to find more speed

Verstappen said, “The car was working pretty well – of course, can always be better in terms of balance, but if we compare it to our competitors, we looked very strong.”

“We didn’t expect to be this competitive, but it all looks very good. Of course, we know in Q3 that Mercedes and also Ferrari they have a little bit more to come, so we have to be cautious.

Engine swaps

McLaren says they believe that the new partnership with Renault can see the team be victorious again. Over the lunch break, it was announced that McLaren had terminated the contract with Honda in favour of Renault power.

McLaren boss Zak Brown said “We think we have the foundation for a long-term partnership. Renault have a great history in the sport, they’ve won a lot of championships with Red Bull. We’re very happy where we are and we think we’ll be very competitive together.”

While Renault has more power, they still struggle to match the performance of Ferrari and Mercedes. With Renault Cyril Abiteboul admitting “We are playing catch-up in every single aspect.”

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said “I am convinced that within the next three years Honda will improve their performance dramatically. We are more than happy to work together with such a fantastic partner.”

Mercedes ahead of Ferrari

Mercedes went into this weekend expecting to be on the back foot, but they appear not far behind the Red Bulls. Mercedes aren’t leading but it could have been worst as they knew that this low speed circuit isn’t favourable towards them.

Mercedes as we keep saying don’t show their full hand on a Friday. But they did have a strong FP1 at the start we saw both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton trade fastest laps before Ricciardo came along, going fastest.

While since the summer break Mercedes have been stronger on Saturday’s and Sunday’s this as we been saying all week this circuit doesn’t suit the car. But, looking at the bigger picture they were ahead of Ferrari.

Hamilton said “We had a clean day and got through our sessions without problems. It was pretty hot out there, the conditions are pretty awesome to cope with, but the grip on the track is fairly good.

“We were obviously close with the field today and we have still got some improvements to make with the car. We’ve got some work to do. But nothing is out of reach.”

Botas said “This was a difficult day for us, I think we are missing some pace. We were making big setup changes between the first and the second session, but still didn’t quite find the right setting.

“There is plenty of work to do from what we learned today. I was struggling with the overall grip and the balance of the car. The car felt quite nervous, so it’s not so easy to trust the car when you push.”

Ferrari not making sense

Kimi Raikkonen says “not a lot of things made sense” as Ferrari struggled for pace in practice. Going into the weekend it was expected that Ferrari would be leading the pace.

However, they looked well off their normal pace and at low grip circuits, this season Ferrari has the team to beat. In FP2 they were well off the pace as they were not in the top ten, yes Vettel didn’t do a reprehensive flying lap and struggled with balance and grip they should have been up there.

Raikkonen said “It’s not exactly where we expected it to start but we work forward. I’m sure we can improve. It’s not the first time and it’s only Friday.”

Vettel added “It was not ideal, I didn’t mean to go off. I was very lucky I could continue. It was a tricky session for us. The balance wasn’t quite there. But I think it’s in the car.”

New deal

Organisers of the Singapore Grand Prix have announced the race will stay on the calendar until 2021 after organisers signed a new four-year deal.

The announced by the race promoters, the Singapore Tourism Board, and Liberty Media combining to keep the sport’s first night race on the calendar for another four years. F1 chairman and CEO Chase Carey said “The Singapore Grand Prix is a signature Formula 1 race and therefore we are very pleased that it will continue to feature on the calendar for a further four years.”

Singapore’s minster for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said: “The F1 Singapore Grand Prix has generated significant benefits for our economy as well as the Formula 1 franchise.”

“The race has reinforced Singapore’s image as a vibrant and innovative city to a wide international audience. It has also created good opportunities for Singaporeans and the local business community.”

Qualifying preview

Tomorrows qualifying looks to be a fight on paper between Mercedes and Red Bull though you need to expect Ferrari will come back into the mix. Red Bull will want to push Mercedes, but we know Mercedes will turn up the car.

Mercedes have been down playing their chances as we know this circuit plays to the strength of Red Bull. Mercedes will hope that they can hold of Red Bull, but looking at race pace they will need to fight Red Bull and starting at the front will help.

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Jack

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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