Max Verstappen edged team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to hand Red Bull Racing a 1-2 placing in first practice for the Singapore Grand Prix. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, meanwhile, hit the barriers late in the session.
Red Bull Racing has been a force to be reckoned with at the twisting Marina Bay Street Circuit, heading the list of repeat winners here with a hat-trick of wins from 2011-2013, and even after the team’s dominance ebbed following th4e adoption of hybrid engines, it has continued to do well in Singapore – with Ricciardo take back-to-back podium finishes in 2014 and last year.
And having earlier this year set the pace in Monaco and figured well in the similarly winding Hungaroring, it was expected that the Milton Keynes squad would set the pace this weekend.
So it proved, with Verstappen leading the way. The Dutch teenager logged the early evening’s best time with a lap of 1:45.823, just under five hundredths of a second clear of Ricciardo, who had been quicker than his team-mate across the first two sectors of the 23-corner layout. Both drivers set their best times using Pirelli’s ultrasoft tyre. They were also the only drivers to dip below the 1m46s barrier.
Their closest challenger was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who end the session 0.4s behind Ricciardo. He too used the ultrasoft tyre.
He was followed by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in fourth and Rosberg in fifth. The defending Constructors champions struggled badly in Singapore last year, when the race was won by Vettel, and in the opening exchanges this time out they were again off the pace, with Hamilton finish 0.6s behind pacesetter Verstappen and with Rosberg just under a tenth of a second further back. Both Mercedes drivers did set the best times on soft tyres however.
Rosberg’s session was ended early however, when he hit the wall at Turn 18 with 15 minutes remaining in the session. The German was able to reverse his car from the barriers and managed to get his car back to the pits for repairs.
Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari finished sixth fastest, although he was six tenths off team-mate Vettel and a second slower than Verstappen.
Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat finished the opening 90 minutes in seventh and eighth respectively. Behind them Williams Felipe Massa was ninth, with a time set on supersoft tyres, with Esteban Gutierrez rounding out the top ten. Gutierrez ended the session almost 2.3s off Verstappen.
The Mexican fared better than his team-mate Romain Grosjean, however. The Frenchman completed just two laps during the session due to a mechanical issue with his car.
McLaren’s Jenson Button also had problems during the session. He stopped on his installation lap at the start of running. The car was pushed back to the pit lane and he managed to get going again later, completing 20 laps in all to finish in 16th place.
2016 Singapore Grand Prix – Free Practice 1
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:45.823 25
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:45.872 27
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:46.287 22
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:46.426 24
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:46.513 22
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:46.890 20
7 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:46.936 28
8 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:47.683 29
9 Felipe Massa Williams 1:48.044 27
10 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:48.109 23
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:48.202 21
12 Sergio Perez Force India 1:48.214 28
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:48.359 28
14 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:48.453 26
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:49.595 16
16 Jenson Button McLaren 1:49.615 20
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:49.794 27
18 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1:50.263 29
19 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:51.112 23
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:51.479 16
21 Esteban Ocon Manor 1:52.379 33
22 Romain Grosjean Haas 2