Daniel Ricciardo led teammate Max Verstappen as Red Bull set the pace in the opening practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix.
On a circuit Red Bull has been targeting due to a lack of emphasis on the power unit, Ricciardo’s best time of 1m39.711s left him 0.2s clear of Verstappen as the majority of the top teams used the hypersoft tire. The gap between Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel in third place was just 0.085s, with Ferrari third and fourth as Kimi Raikkonen ended up just over three quarters of a second off the pace.
Nico Hulkenberg was a strong fifth for Renault — albeit 1.4 seconds adrift of Ricciardo — as Mercedes opted to carry out its running on the soft compound tire. That result in Lewis Hamilton ending up sixth, over a second and a half slower than the quickest time.
Carlos Sainz managed to split the Mercedes pair in the second Renault, with Valtteri Bottas — who spun at Turn 2 — Charles Leclerc and Romain Grosjean rounding out the top 10.
Despite a strong finishing position, Leclerc marked the first session since confirmation he will drive for Ferrari next season with an error, as the 20-year-old clouted the wall coming across the Anderson Bridge. The track kinks to the right before a slow left-hander and Leclerc was too greedy turning right, damaging the right-front corner of his car and having to immediately stop with three minutes remaining.
Times during FP1 are less representative than at many circuits, with running taking place in the late afternoon sun that keeps the track temperature high. FP2, qualifying and the race all take place after 8 p.m. local time when the sun has gone down, resulting in different conditions.
While the teams tend to focus on general performance comparison rather than specific setup work in FP1, that doesn’t prevent mistakes as Lance Stroll was first to spin at the second corner after dropping two wheels on the artificial turf on the inside of the curb. Sergio Perez was 12th fastest behind Marcus Ericsson but also swapped ends at Turn 20, avoiding contact with the wall before rejoining.
Raikkonen also went off track in the second half of the session, locking up and going straight on at Turn 18 — where the track cuts underneath a grandstand — before taking some time to safely turn the car around in the run-off area.
Fresh from confirmation he will lose his McLaren seat at the end of the year, Stoffel Vandoorne suffered another difficult session as he was stuck in the garage for the majority of FP1, completing just 11 laps and finishing slowest by over a second as a result.