Max Verstappen and Nico Rosberg were the drivers on top in the opening day of the Singapore Grand Prix, after Lewis Hamilton ran into problems in the afternoon session.
Coming into the weekend Red Bull are the favourites given Mercedes’ history around this track which and after showing winning pace at Monaco earlier this year. Verstappen was showing he had the pace by five hundredths of a second in the morning session from Rosberg, who ended his attempt on the Ultra Soft prematurely when he hit the infamous barrier at Turn 18.
Having only set a time on the Soft tyre, Rosberg was quickly usurped by Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel, who went two tenths quicker. With the session taking place during twilight hours, Rosberg didn’t miss too much action as most of the aero-related running was done earlier in the session.
Red Bull were notably running aero rakes on their car, and Haas were also running upgrades on Romain Grosjean’s car although he only really got to test them in the afternoon because of a battery charging problem. When he did get going, Grosjean was a few seconds down on team mate Esteban Gutierrez, outside of the top ten and looking fairly ragged through some of the corners.
The Haas driver event stacked it into the barrier midway through the session, coming out of the final corner when he lost the rear of his VF-16 and hit the TECPRO barrier. That took both endplates off his rear wing and forced him to come back to the pits for repairs.
Hamilton was also struggling on the Ultra Soft tyre. After complaining about an overheating issue on his ankle in the footwell, the Mercedes driver struggled to get a clean run on the softest compound tyre. After an hours worth of running, he pitted with what turned out to be a hydraulic issue which put an end to his session during the crucial long-run minutes.
Meanwhile his team mate Rosberg was back on top, two tenths ahead of Kimi Raikkonen on the Ultra Soft. Ricciardo went fourth quickest, four tenths off Rosberg after losing time in the final sector.
Further back Nico Hulkenberg went sixth quickest for Force India, with both Williams drivers outside of the top ten as they battle for fourth in the championship this weekend. It was a good showing from Toro Rosso though, as they got both their drivers into the top ten with Kvyat running their aero updates. Fernando Alonso finished ninth despite stopping when the chequered flag due to a suspected gearbox problem.
Photo Credit: XPB Images