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2017 Singapore GP: Friday Practice Round Up

It was all Red Bull on Friday for both Free Practice One and Free Practice Two at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore. Daniel Ricciardo topped both sessions leading the way for Red Bull and sending an early warning to Ferrari and Mercedes.

Free Practice 1

FP1 got off to a bit of a damp start after some afternoon rain. Early runners were caught out at a few places where the track was still damp but that did not stop Lewis Hamilton from setting the early pace in the session.

The session was topped by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo with a session best time of 1:42.489. Splitting the Red Bull’s was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel 0.109s off the pace with his session best time of 1:42.598. Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull was 3rd fastest of the session with a a best time of 1:42.610.

Although he set the early pace, Hamilton could only manage 4th fastest ahead of Sergio Perez in the Force India in 5th and team-mate Valtteri Bottas in 6th. Bottas struggled for pace for most of the session. Fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen finished 7th fastest in the second Ferrari 1.245s off the pace.

Finishing 8th was Fernando Alonso in the McLaren. While he should be happy that McLaren will be running Renault power from next year, he just cant seem to resist taking a few pot-shots at Honda over the team radio. “For info. We could be P-1,” quipped the Spaniard sarcastically  when told he was 7th fastest on the time sheets.

Nico Hulkenberg was 9th fastest for Renault with Daniil Kvyat for Toro Rosso rounding out the top 10.

As usual in Singapore and with a street track, there were lots of lock ups and off track excursions with a few spins thrown in for good measure.

Free Practice 2

Free Practice 2 takes place under the lights in Singapore and the session is more representatives of the times teams will set during qualifying and the race.

Once again the Red Bulls dominated the session with Daniel Ricciardo once again outpacing his team mate to finish fastest. Verstappen finished 2nd fastest, just a touch over half a second off the pace. Ricciardo set a new track record around the Marina Bay Street Circuit of 1:40.852. Ricciardo’s time blitzed last years FP2 time by 3.3s.

It was a challenging session for Ferrari with Vettel unable to set a fast time on the ultra soft after being blocked somewhat by the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson. Vettel abandoned those plans after slapping the barrier with the rear right of his Ferrari. Thankfully for the German, his Ferrari came out of the incident unscathed and he was able to complete the rest of the session without much fuss.

Mercedes looked to have got things together by finishing behind the Red Bull’s in 3rd and 4th with Hamilton leading Bottas. The Silver Arrows have quite a lot of work to do as Hamilton’s time of 1:41.555 was 0.703s off Ricciardo’s best time.

There were offs from Hamilton, Alonso and Sainz. The latter got into a sticky spot when reversing out of the run of area. An at speed Sebastian Vettel nearly made contact with the reversing Toro Rosso.

Drivers were clearly testing the limits of the track with Romain Grosjean, Lance Stroll, Max Vesrtappen, Kevin Magnussen and Vettel tagging the walls. After Vettel tagged the wall, the VSC was deployed to allow marshals to repair the advertising board Vettel had ripped off.

Red Bull looked top of the pops in the long runs with what looks like a significant pace advantage over the Ferrari and Mercedes. If Red Bull lock out the front row in qualifying on Saturday the pair could cruise home to a 1-2 victory.

There’s still FP3 to go and a lot can still happen.


Photo credit: Red Bull Racing Formula One Team

About Ritesh K Bhana

Ritesh likes to think he is a true Tifosi, but he still remains fair to other teams. He supports two other teams which are not Red Bull and McLaren. Follow Ritesh on twitter @Humanshield_1

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