Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was fastest in the first practice session for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. The Australian broke the lap record on his way to go one tenth faster than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel with teammate Max Verstappen third.
Ricciardo set his fastest time on the ultra-soft tyres, proving the team’s expectations of being able to challenge the Ferrari’s and Mercedes this weekend. However, the first practice should be taken with caution as it takes place during the afternoon and the circuit was damp.
The Mercedes led the times early on with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Lewis Hamilton, they were soon set back to the mid top ten. Bottas briefly took advantage of a clear track to go fastest, before being pushed down by Hamilton who finish fourth fastest and Bottas had to settle for sixth.
Force India’s Sergio Perez set his fastest time in the last quarter of the session, going fifth splitting the Mercedes drivers. However, the Mexican finished the session half a second down on Hamilton. While Hamilton had an off at turn fourteen and Bottas struggled for grip. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was sixth.
On what looks set to be a very big day for McLaren, Fernando Alonso complained of a lack of power. Asked if he would like another flying lap before insisting that McLaren could be topping the timesheets.
This underlines the reason why since the end of the session, McLaren has announced that they will be split with engine partner Honda at the end of the season. This follows consistently poor performance and reliability from Honda’s engines since the two joined forces for the 2015 season.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was ninth with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat holding onto tenth, after Stoffel Vandoorne failed to o improve by enough with his late-session pace to get ahead of the Russian.
Felipe Massa was the best of the Williams drivers in fourteenth, while Lance Stroll completed only 10 laps before pitting with a gearbox problem and ended up seventeenth. But the Williams’s were the only drivers not to use the ultrasoft tyres.
Haas’s Romain Grosjean suffered three spins on track, firstly running off at turn one, followed by a spin at sixteen and then another off at eighteen. He was three-tenths faster than the teams reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi.
Sean Gelael had his first outing for Toro Rosso standing in for Carlos Sainz. The Indonesian finished eighteenth, with him complaining of a possible problem with the front left that caused “no grip” in the final 20 minutes.
He outpaced the two Saubers, with Marcus Ericsson – who suffered a spin in the Turn 18 left-hander early in the session – 0.187s ahead of team-mate Pascal Wehrlein.