The Friday in F1 Singapore GP was quite smooth in terms of no incidents on a new layout, as Ferrari reigned supreme with Red Bull down.
It was an interesting Friday in F1 Singapore GP at the Marina Bay Circuit which ran a new layout by removing four corners. There was not trouble for drivers to get upto speed barring some lizard issues, that too just in the FP1 session.
The Turn 1 did catch out some but everyone behaved well with Ferrari duo sharing the top spot. Charles Leclerc set the pace in FP1 and Carlos Sainz followed it up in FP2 as they maintained a 1-2 finish in a strong show from the Italian manufacturer.
The race pace remains a bit of a question mark but one lap, they did well. And for a change, they had the likes of Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin to fight with for the top spot rather than the Red Bull F1 pair who did not have a great time.
Both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez struggled with balance issues especially with an unstable rear end. Over at Mercedes and Aston Martin, they were satisfied with their Friday running and the pace they had with McLaren also pleased with their running especially for Lando Norris who had a heavily updated car.
Verstappen: “The Ferraris are very fast, but I think we’re just way worse than we expected. We’re just struggling a lot with the balance of the car. We tried quite a few things in FP2; some worked, some didn’t. We never really got the car together so it’s quite a few things to figure out tonight. I will try to, of course, improve. But it’s quite a big gap.”
Sainz: “Yeah, a little. But at the same time, you always need to arrive to Singapore very open-minded. You’ve seen in the past very weird performance swings at this track, because it’s a very particular track, and so far, it looks like it’s suiting our car well and it’s going well. We hit the ground running in FP1 and just fine-tuned the set-up a bit for FP2 to be a bit quicker. It looks good, but I do believe the track is going to change tomorrow, it’s going to ramp up the grip a lot and it’s all about who finds the perfect set-up for tomorrow. No. I don’t believe it. When you look at the long run pace, they looked like the strongest car. Once they sort out the one-lap pace they’ll be there fighting for pole. Hopefully we will be in that fight, but it also looks like Aston [Martin], McLaren, Mercedes should also be in that fight. So, I think we are on for an exciting day tomorrow and hopefully we can get the best out of it.”
Leclerc: “Yes, we’re surprised, but we’re not getting carried away either. It’s only Friday and we expect the other teams to show more of their true potential tomorrow, so we cannot get carried away. But it is true that we did not expect this kind of performance, on a Friday at least, and it’s a good start. But now we need to focus on ourselves and reproduce just the same tomorrow. It’s going to be very close for sure. Again, I expect the others to be much faster tomorrow, so let’s see. I hope we won’t have any bad surprises [or] that we’ll be less competitive than we are at the moment. But for now, everything looks good, and I hope it will be the same tomorrow.”
Hamilton: “It’s been a great day here in Singapore. They have done an amazing job with the track changes; I love driving this circuit now more than ever. The new track surface is great, and it made the track even more enjoyable to drive. Then the removal of the four corners near the end of the lap has absolutely perfected the circuit. It’s incredible to drive. In terms of our day overall, FP1 was solid. We were still a little bit off where we wanted to be, but it wasn’t too bad. FP2 was for sure the best FP2 session I’ve had this year. It was nice to finish a Friday feeling so positive. I think we’ve got a good platform to build off for the rest of the weekend. It’s the best I’ve felt from a Friday this year, so I hope we can do some good work overnight, as we always tend to do, and continue to improve.”
Alonso: “Today was fun. I think the new circuit layout is an improvement: it’s a bit faster and you get into a little more rhythm around the lap. I like the changes they’ve made. It was a normal Friday in Singapore – hot and humid – but we got some useful tests done on the car and with the tyres, so let’s see how tomorrow goes. It’s hard to read too much into the times – today was more about building confidence with the car and the track. I think qualifying is going to be very tight: we could be P5, P6, or we could go out in Q2 if we lose just a couple of tenths over a lap. We are going to have to nail the laps in qualifying tomorrow to ensure a good result in the race.”
Norris: “I think it was a reasonable Friday, it was good to get the new bits on the car and everything’s looking positive from that side at the minute. It’s a nice improvement from what we had. I think it’s done everything that it should have done, so a good job by the team to get the upgrade here and for it all to work as it should. I think the pace is reasonable, we might not be as good as Ferrari, but we’re in a good fight for a good position otherwise.”
Outside the Top 5 teams, the rest of the outfits will be eyeing for few spots in the Top 10. Haas’ Kevin Magnussen managed to get himself inside in FP2 but it was the same story for them as they ran well on low fuel while struggling on high fuel.
Also close were Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon but it will be a close battle to make it in the Top 10 along with Haas. It seems like Williams will struggle as the car doesn’t suit the circuit as well.
Bottas: “Today has been a positive day overall: we got some positive feedback from the upgrades we have brought here in Singapore, which brought more load and stability to the rear end, and the feeling was good. Our pace seemed to be just about in the top ten, but we’ll need to work on it tonight to find that extra bit to be up there tomorrow when it counts. Our target is to score again this weekend: I believe we have a chance to do it, if we get everything right: of course, on a track like this one, where overtaking is still difficult, qualifying in a favourable position will be crucial.”
Lawson: “Initially, today was tricky, but that was expected with this unique track. I’m enjoying it and learning a lot. It was also cool to drive at night, under the lights, and with the heat here, it’s more comfortable as a driver. We need to make the most of FP3 tomorrow, but so far, it’s been ok. We’ve been gradually building, and it’s been going nicely, so there’s definitely more to come tomorrow. On this type of circuit, it’s hard to notice the differences in the updates. The gains won’t be as big as on more traditional circuits, but the car has definitely improved. Obviously, with something this new, we need to figure out how to maximise it, so we’ll analyse our data tonight, ready for qualifying tomorrow. I feel there isn’t as big of an improvement in grip between the soft and medium compound, but we’ll look into it for qualifying and the race.”
Magnussen: “It was good on one lap on low-fuel, on high-fuel we’re still struggling a bit for pace. That’s our focus as always, this year. It’s the high-fuel performance that is lacking and what we’re looking at and focusing on. It’s one of the tracks which is harder to overtake at, so if you can start further up, maybe that means a little bit more here than on others. Hopefully we can have a good qualifying and try and hang on to a good position.”
Gasly: “It’s always good to be in Singapore and driving at this great venue at Marina Bay. The heat and humidity is very intense for us in the cockpit and that is all part of the challenge of racing here. On track, it’s been a busy day with lots of different items to get through. We have a couple of small updates on the car, so it was important to spend some time validating those from an aerodynamic point of view. In terms of our performance, I would say we have some work to do. We have a lot of things to look at on set-up and some things we can definitely improve ahead of tomorrow. The new track layout is good and it will be interesting to see how the racing is with the changes and see if it brings any overtaking opportunities.”
Albon: “We think the issue is battery related; I started my lap and it felt okay but then I just started to lose deployment as I went on the straight. I think we already know the problem so it shouldn’t be too long to fix but around here you want the mileage because it’s such a confidence building circuit. Aside from the issue, the car hasn’t felt too bad and I don’t believe we’ll suffer from any penalties, but we’ll have a proper look tonight. With the temperature of the car here this weekend and the lack of running time, we’ll have to do a little bit of guess work tomorrow, but it should be fine going into FP3 tomorrow.”
Here’s how FP1 in F1 Singapore GP panned out
Here’s how FP2 in F1 Singapore GP panned out