Kimi Raikkonen led Lewis Hamilton by just 0.011s in FP2 for the Singapore Grand Prix as Sebastian Vettel’s session was ended prematurely by contact with the wall.
Vettel was attempting to beat Raikkonen’s benchmark of 1m38.699s when he hit the wall on the outside of Turn 21 and immediately aborted his lap, coming straight back into the pits. The contact was fairly substantial and the presence of fluid in the Ferrari pit box as Vettel was pushed back into the garage highlighted that damage had been done.
Ferrari started inspecting the car but Vettel was soon seen changing out his overalls with his session over after just 12 laps, meaning the German failed to complete a long run in the only representative practice session of the race weekend. FP1 and FP3 both take place before sunset, with the race itself starting at 2010 local time.
Raikkonen’s pace had Ferrari on top of the times even with Vettel’s incident, but Hamilton’s lap of 1m38.710s will be of particular encouragement for Mercedes on a circuit where the team has traditionally struggled. However, Hamilton’s total of 20 laps was less mileage than most drivers — with nearly all of the rest of the field exceeding 30 — and he also was out of his car before the end of running.
Red Bull topped the opening session with Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen respectively, but had to settle for third and fourth — this time with Verstappen the lead car — in FP2. Valtteri Bottas was fifth quickest as Mercedes finally used the hypersoft compound tire, with 0.669s covering the top five cars.
Before Vettel hit the wall he was involved in a slightly bizarre incident that almost resulted in Hamilton running into the back of the Ferrari. The championship leader was looking to overtake Vettel at Turn 14 but was too far back and backed out, locking up and narrowly avoiding contact before taking to the escape road.
The top three teams appear more closely matched than in recent races but maintained a clear advantage over the rest of the field, with Carlos Sainz continuing a strong start to the weekend for Renault as he ended up sixth. The gap to Bottas ahead of Sainz was a little over 0.9s, with the same margin covering sixth to Stoffel Vandoorne in 16th.
Romain Grosjean, Fernando Alonso, Vettel and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10, ahead of Sergio Perez and Marcus Ericsson. After Charles Leclerc hit the wall late in FP1 — causing damage that was repaired in time for FP2 — it was Ericsson’s turn to make a mistake toward the end of the second session. Ericsson spun exiting Turn 5, with Alonso having to react quickly to avoid the Sauber.
After its double-points finish in Monza, Williams was half a second off the pace at the back of the field, with Lance Stroll completing only 17 laps after his right rear brake caught fire while on track.