Singapore GP: Ricciardo leads Red Bull 1-2 in first practice

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Singapore GP: Ricciardo leads Red Bull 1-2 in first practice
By: Stuart Codling
Sep 14, 2018, 10:13 AM

Daniel Ricciardo set the pace for Red Bull in opening practice for the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix as laptimes tumbled compared with last year’s FP1.

During a qualifying simulation run on hypersoft tyres in the final half hour, Ricciardo lapped in 1m39.711s, not only deposing Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel from the top spot but also obliterating his own fastest time from the equivalent session last year, a 1m42.489s.

Max Verstappen made it a Red Bull 1-2, and Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen ended the session seven tenths off the pace in fourth after losing track time to a car issue.

Nico Hulkenberg, trialling a new bargeboard on his Renault this weekend, was the best of the rest in fifth, albeit 1.394s off the pace, while neither of the Mercedes drivers attempted a fast lap on the hypersoft compound.

Lewis Hamilton was sixth fastest, Valtteri Bottas eighth.

As the session got under way, the Marina Bay Circuit was still basking in the late afternoon sunshine and an ambient temperature of 32C. The track surface itself was a baking 43C.

Given the relatively unrepresentative nature of this daylight session, several teams demonstrated little urgency in taking to the track, and only eight drivers set timed laps during the first 15 minutes.

The track surface evolved markedly over the course of the session and the process accelerated as more cars joined the fray: Raikkonen's initial benchmark of 1m44.622s was over two seconds slower than Ricciardo's fastest lap in FP1 last year, but by the time the session entered its final hour both Mercedes and both Red Bulls had smashed the 2017 time - without using the softest tyre compounds available.

Much of this improvement will have come through car and tyre development, since teams seldom chase set-up this early during a race weekend on a street circuit with a 'green' surface.

Both Raikkonen and Verstappen ran new MGU-H power unit elements, their third of the season, but Raikkonen ran just eight laps before a technical problem forced him to pit for what the team warned him would be "a long change".

Vettel also spent much of the first hour in the garage, completing just 10 laps before he and Raikkonen returned to the track on hypersofts with 35 minutes to go.

Vettel duly rocketed to the top of the timesheets with a 1m39.997s, eclipsing Bottas's previous best of 1m41.669s on the softs, while Raikkonen had a brief off at Turn 18, taking to the escape road.

Ricciardo and Verstappen then emerged to run qualifying simulations on hypersofts, and both of them went quicker than Vettel, with a 1m39.711s and a 1m39.912s respectively.

All the while, the Mercedes pairing followed their own programme of long runs on the soft compound, though they were clearly hustling: Bottas made a brief excursion down the escape road at Turn 14.

Carlos Sainz squeezed between the two Mercedes' times on his qualifying run on hypersofts, and Charles Leclerc was ninth fastest for Sauber before clipping the inside wall at Turn 3 and removing his right-front wheel just minutes before the end of the session.

Romain Grosjean completed the top 10, three places and just over three tenths faster than Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Cla Driver Chassis Engine Laps Time Gap
1 Australia Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull TAG 27 1'39.711  
2 Netherlands Max Verstappen  Red Bull TAG 27 1'39.912 0.201
3 Germany Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari Ferrari 23 1'39.997 0.286
4 Finland Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari Ferrari 21 1'40.486 0.775
5 Germany Nico Hulkenberg  Renault Renault 26 1'41.105 1.394
6 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes Mercedes 28 1'41.232 1.521
7 Spain Carlos Sainz  Renault Renault 23 1'41.329 1.618
8 Finland Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes Mercedes 28 1'41.429 1.718
9 Monaco Charles Leclerc  Sauber Ferrari 24 1'42.035 2.324
10 France Romain Grosjean  Haas Ferrari 21 1'42.108 2.397
11 Sweden Marcus Ericsson  Sauber Ferrari 23 1'42.408 2.697
12 Mexico Sergio Perez  Force India Mercedes 25 1'42.412 2.701
13 Denmark Kevin Magnussen  Haas Ferrari 20 1'42.452 2.741
14 Spain Fernando Alonso  McLaren Renault 23 1'42.630 2.919
15 France Esteban Ocon  Force India Mercedes 25 1'43.177 3.466
16 France Pierre Gasly  Toro Rosso Honda 25 1'43.240 3.529
17 New Zealand Brendon Hartley  Toro Rosso Honda 30 1'43.485 3.774
18 Canada Lance Stroll  Williams Mercedes 30 1'43.849 4.138
19 Russian Federation Sergey Sirotkin  Williams Mercedes 29 1'44.036 4.325
20 Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren Renault 11 1'45.160 5.449
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About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Singapore GP
Author Stuart Codling
Article type Practice report