Max Verstappen topped the first practice session at the Singapore GP, but there were problems for Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen topped the session with a 1:40.259 on the soft tyres, with Sebastian Vettel finishing a tenth behind in P2. Lewis Hamilton rounded off the top three; he was 0.666 seconds off the pace but his fastest time came on the hard tyres.
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas was P4, yet his session came to an abrupt end when screeching into the barriers at Turn 19. Meanwhile, Charles Leclerc was all the way down in P19 after a gearbox issue saw him crawl back to the Ferrari garage.
A 1:44.723 was Leclerc’s early effort on the medium compound – some way shy of Daniel Ricciardo’s 1:39.711 which set the fastest FP1 time here last year.
Nico Hulkenberg is a man on a mission as he looks to salvage his F1 future following Haas’ snub, and quickly went within three tenths of Vettel with his first run.
Max Verstappen raised the bar with a 1:43.077 on the soft compound to go fastest – after two difficult races at Spa and Monza Red Bull expect the Marina Bay Street Circuit to be a far better fit for them.
Soon after Bottas survived a brush with the wall to take over P1 with just over an hour to go, while Hulkenberg continued to look handy on the soft tyres as he rose to P3.
Bottas’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton almost hit the wall himself after trying to make his way beyond Carlos Sainz through the tunnel. The Brit also survived though and made it count with a 1:42.412 to better Bottas by 0.6s.
The times were ever improving as the session dipped under an hour remaining – Verstappen went back to the top of the timings with a 1:41.9 on used softs. That didn’t lost long though as Hamilton went P1 again in this early game of one-upmanship.
Ferrari were missing out with both cars back in the garage. Leclerc has been running a new floor while Vettel was using the old spec, but both were removed from the car as Leclerc and Vettel headed for some air-conditioned hospitality.
The old floor and front wing went on to Leclerc’s car, meaning Vettel would have a run with the upgrades.
Bottas returned to the track on the hard compound, but still he was able to go fastest and make it a Mercedes one-two with half of the session gone.
Russell shot up to P11, but that was quickly overshadowed by his departing Williams team-mate Robert Kubica who went P5.
Vettel was back out on the circuit and flying with the softs – a 1:40.4 put him P1, Verstappen slotted in a tenth behind, but disaster struck for Leclerc who slowed at the end of the lap and crawled into the pit lane.
Ferrari confirmed there was a problem as the SF90 appeared to be jammed in fourth gear.
🚩 RED FLAG 🚩
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 20, 2019
Verstappen finally managed to get the better of Vettel with a 1:40.2 as he put his RB15 back on top. One driver who wasn’t going to be setting another lap was Bottas after he slammed his Mercedes into the barriers and brought out the red flags.
It was the Dutchman who held on to P1 to start the weekend off in perfect fashion for Red Bull.
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:40.259 22
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.167s 23
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 0.666s 26
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1.077s 14
5 Alex Albon Red Bull 1.208s 24
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1.553s 26
7 Carlos Sainz McLaren 1.707s 20
8 Lando Norris McLaren 1.921s 19
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 2.046s 26
10 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 2.118s 24
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 2.268s 20
12 Romain Grosjean Haas 2.371s 23
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing 2.418s 15
14 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing 2.527s 13
15 Lance Stroll Racing Point 2.532s 28
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 2.891s 22
17 Robert Kubica Williams 3.077s 28
18 Sergio Perez Racing Point 3.110s 23
19 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 3.359s 12
20 George Russell Williams 3.734s 29
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