Nico Rosberg was quickest in the first Practice session in Singapore. The Mercedes driver was 0.319 clear of teammate Lewis Hamilton on a 1:47.995, and a further 0.336 from Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull.
As always in Singapore the first Practice session got underway in twilight hours, which meant it wasn’t representative of the racing conditions the teams will be running in on Sunday. This allowed them to run the aero rakes and flow-vis paint on some of their updates, notably Red Bull who were running aero rakes at the front of their RB11 on Kvyat’s car, and Force India at the rear of Perez’s car.
Alexander Rossi meanwhile was acclimatising himself to the Manor. Putting in the early lap times, the American was told to “be careful of the clutch paddle” over the team radio, before he responded with “I think its hitting my leg” when he turned the wheel. In a rarity Manor brought some updates to this weekend, which they ran on Will Stevens’ car early on.
Jenson Button was having issues with his radio volume early on in the session, reporting to his engineer that it was going quiet in some parts of the circuit and loud in the others. McLaren were also having overheating tyre issues on Alonso’s car, who was told to do “one fast lap, slow lap, then another fast lap” out on track.
Elsewhere Daniil Kvyat reported a “loss of power” in his Red Bull, prompting the team to call him in at the 30 minute mark. Once the teams gave their extra set of Pirelli tyres back, the first cars to emerge from the pits were the two Manor’s, with Rossi improving his times on a new set of Soft tyres.
Nico Hulkenberg didn’t get back out until we had 30 minutes left after a planned floor change curtailed some of his running, whilst Verstappen was told to pit because of tyre temperature sensor issues. Also with sensor issues was Kvyat, who after experiencing power issues in the early parts of the session was told to abort his run due to “concerns with the fuel system.”
Pastor Maldonado was also told to abort his run with 17 minutes to go with gearbox issues, after getting close on more than one occasion with the walls in Singapore. Also playing dare down at turn 20 was Sebastien Vettel, who on most of his laps brushed the concrete barrier on exit.
Whilst they were able to escape without damage though, Rossi who was on a slow lap after improving the last couple lost his Manor on entry to the slow turn 18 and slammed into the barrier, causing significant damage to the left side of his car. That brought out the Red Flag, and effectively ended the session as Rossi clambered out of his car and the marshals recovered it.
In the second Practice session Daniil Kvyat was the quickest in the Red Bull, after the teams switched to the Super Soft tyre to gather data for the race in the more representative conditions.
The Red Bull driver was 0.039 clear of the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, and a further 0.114 from teammate Daniel Ricciardo to be the first Renault-powered car to top a Practice session in the V6 turbo hybrid era. The Super Soft times started to come in around 30 minutes into the session, when Raikkonen was the first to post a benchmark lap time of 1:46.181 – 1.4 seconds quicker than Hamilton’s quickest lap on the Soft tyre.
The Mercedes driver was unable to first a rhythm in his first couple of laps, after running wide down at turn two on the start of his first lap, then getting caught in traffic in the next attempt. He eventually managed a lap time good enough for second fastest, before Ricciardo went second fastest after setting a purple sector two and got held up heading into turn 18. He was 0.075 off the pace, before Kvyat went quickest and determined the order until the chequered flag at the top.
Williams meanwhile looked to be struggling with rear end grip, only managing times in the midfield with both drivers at a circuit they were worried about after the disaster Monaco Grand Prix earlier in the year. Rossi meanwhile managed to get back out with 20 minutes left in the session, after the Manor mechanics raced to fix the damage the American did at the end of Practice 1.
Manor had their work cut out throughout Friday evening, after Will Stevens crashed down at turn 13 after losing the backend similarly to Rossi heading into the corner. Not as much damage to the rear end was done, but it was enough to put him out of the remainder of the session.
We also saw a left rear puncture on Sainz’s car, after the Toro Rosso driver touched the wall down at turn five 30 minutes into the session. He managed to get back to the pits however, but it was slow as Toro Rosso didn’t want him to damage elements on the floor as they prepared him for the Super Soft runs. He ended the session 15th fastest on, whilst teammate Max Verstappen finished 10th fastest.
Also worth noting both Force India’s in the top ten, with Hulkenberg 9th and Perez 6th, ahead of Nico Rosberg by a tenth of a second. Fernando Alonso also managed 8th in the McLaren in the Super Soft runs, despite the team struggling with rear tyre overheating in Practice 1.