MARINA BAY, Singapore – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time on the opening day of Formula One practice at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Friday.
Hamilton edged Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the fastest lap of the day in the second practice, circling the 3.146-mile, 23-turn circuit in 1:38.773. Verstappen’s fastest lap was .184 seconds off the pace set by Hamilton.
“It’s always a shock to the system when you first get in the car here in Singapore because it’s very bumpy, it’s a long lap and it’s so hot out there – it’s like a sauna in the car,” Hamilton said. “But it’s been a solid first day, we got through our run plan and continued to improve the car, so I’m really happy with it. I felt much better in the car today than I have for a while, so I hope I can keep that feeling over the weekend. They re-did a few bits of tarmac on the circuit and I managed to get the tires working well. If you can get into a groove and into a rhythm here, it’s such a beautiful lap, so I’ve really been enjoying it. But nothing’s ever perfect and we definitely have some areas that we can still improve on. We’ve got off to a good start, but the Red Bulls looked very quick and we still have to put it all together tomorrow, which is not going to be easy.”
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was third fastest overall, followed by the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Alexander Albon.
The only major incident on Friday saw Bottas run his Mercedes into a barrier at turn 19. The Mercedes team was able to repair his car and get him back on track for the second practice.
Albon also ran into trouble during the second practice, nosing his car into a tire barrier. The Red Bull entry suffered minor damage to the front wing.
Charles Leclerc, the winner of the last two Formula One events, had an up-and-down day. He retired early from the first practice with a gearbox issue, but rebounded to set the sixth fastest time overall in practice two.