MARINA BAY, Singapore – Two weeks removed from the Italian Grand Prix, where Red Bull’s Max Verstappen broke the record for most successive race wins at ten races, Formula 1’s teams and drivers headed to the streets of Marina Bay for the Singapore Grand Prix to race under the lights. Teams were met with heat, humidity, and occasional lizards to make an exciting practice day.
Before track activity started though, on Friday, Alfa Romeo announced Thursday that their second seat alongside Valtteri Bottas was filled as Zhou Guanyu would be retained for another year through 2024. This meant that Guanyu had much-needed stability and relief as he no longer had to worry about if he had a seat for next season. This also means another team has filled up both seats, leaving fewer and fewer possible options remaining by the end of the season across the grid.
F1 drivers and teams were greeted by the heat almost immediately as the first practice was run as the sun was still setting over the streets of Marina Bay. A majority of teams started the session on the Hard compound tire. In contrast, teams like McLaren’s Lando Norris opted to go with the Medium tires and set the early pace.
But after a while, teams went to the Soft compound tires to start to show their pace to begin the weekend. However, it was interrupted when the local wildlife made their way on the track. This caused yellow flags to fly and a caution as some of the local lizards crossed the track.
In the end, it was the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz who sat on the top of the timing sheets, showing the same speed they did the race prior at Monza. Following them came Verstappen, with the British duo of Norris and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton rounding out the top 5. A primarily quiet session gave teams the information they needed before heading back on track for the second practice. It would be more like actual race conditions on Sunday.
The lights turned on, and the night filled the sky as FP2 began on the streets of Marina Bay. Once again, another quiet practice session, this time with less lizards, allowed the teams to be able to gather essential data
This session was once again led by Ferrari, though this time it was swapped as Sainz led teammate Leclerc to the top of the charts. Following behind came the Mercedes of George Russell and the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso, hoping to turn things around and keep the fight going in the drivers championship for third place. Rounding out the Top 5 came the other Mercedes of Hamilton.
While Ferrari was leading the way, Red Bull looked to be struggling through both sessions. Championship leader Verstappen noted his struggles as he only got as high as eighth place on the timing sheets. At the same time, his teammate and reigning Singapore Grand Prix winner Sergio Perez topped out at seventh in both sessions. It will be interesting to see if this is a crack in their armor or if they can turn it around for the rest of the weekend.
Ferrari and the rest of the grid now look towards Saturday as there is one more practice session before the qualifying rounds to set the grid for Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix. All eyes will be on Ferrari to see if they can keep up this form and grab the front row or if the rest of the grid can catch up.