Carlos Sainz led a Ferrari one-two in FP2 for the Singapore Grand Prix as both Red Bull drivers looked off the pace by their extremely high standards this season.
Sainz narrowly pipped team-mate Charles Leclerc to top spot on Friday, with the Mercedes of George Russell third, Fernando Alonso fourth and Lewis Hamilton rounding out the top five.
Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen were only seventh and eighth quickest respectively, behind Lando Norris, as their pre-weekend predictions of Red Bull potentially struggling at the Singapore Grand Prix appeared to look accurate – though there is still a long way to go in the weekend yet.
Ferrari top the timesheets as Red Bull falter in FP2 at Marina Bay
After FP1 at dusk, FP2 began under the floodlights as Formula 1’s original night race saw practice in more representative conditions that the drivers will face in the race, as well as the drivers having to get used to artificial light compared to natural light earlier in the day.
And the early laps on medium and hard tyres saw Fernando Alonso set the early pace for Aston Martin, a 1:33.964 being slower than the quickest time set in FP1, but he was soon well beaten by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz on a 1:33.303, the Scuderia showing a turn of pace that was unexpected by their early predictions, a full half-second faster than Charles Leclerc.
The Red Bull drivers were fourth and fifth after the first 10 minutes of the session, but Alex Albon – in his one-off liveried Williams – suffered a loss of power and was left to crawl back into the pit lane at a slower speed for repairs.
The track evolves significantly over the course of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, with the track winding its way around public roads and the drivers clearing dust on the track surface with every passing lap.
Verstappen pushed the limits over the Anderson Bridge and slid under braking, before getting a lot of wheelspin on the exit of the following hairpin and opting to pit to run tests on his car as a result.
Meanwhile, Albon remained in his garage and climbed out of his car, with the problem on his Williams more significant than perhaps first anticipated, the team soon confirming a power unit issue on his FW45.
Back on track, soft tyres were going on the remaining drivers as the Ferrari duo looked to cement their promising showing – and Sainz’s 1:32.120 was just 0.018s faster than Leclerc, and they locked out the top two places with Lewis Hamilton four tenths down in third.
That was until the Red Bulls showed their hand, but even then, Verstappen crossed the line 0.732s down on Sainz as he encountered some traffic on his flying lap.
And when Perez followed with a lap of his own a tenth behind the Dutchman, they were only seventh and eighth in the times as for the first time this season, the RB19 looked outpaced.
Perez reported over team radio: “It’s just not coming. Every braking zone, I feel like I’m going to crash. The rear is just stepping out massively.”
While the Mexican was able to improve on his quickest effort shortly afterwards, it was only enough to move him above Verstappen in the standings as Red Bull were left with work to do to overhaul their rivals for arguably the first time this year.
As always in FP2, qualifying simulations made way for a race stint simulation for the final part of the session as the drivers trialled higher fuel in their cars around Marina Bay.
This led to no improvement in lap times, but valuable data was gathered for the teams, who will now work into the night as their race preparations intensify.
FP2 classification: 2023 Singapore Grand Prix
1 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari 1:32.120
2 Charles LECLERC Ferrari +0.018
3 George RUSSELL Mercedes +0.235
4 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.358
5 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +0.465
6 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.591
7 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull +0.692
8 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull +0.732
9 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas +0.897
10 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.985
11 Nico HULKENBERG Haas +1.019
12 Liam LAWSON AlphaTauri +1.165
13 Esteban OCON Alpine +1.241
14 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +1.270
15 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +1.341
16 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +1.357
17 ZHOU Guanyu Alfa Romeo +1.455
18 Pierre GASLY Alpine +1.704
19 Logan SARGEANT Williams +2.207
20 Alexander ALBON Williams +3.438