F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice SINGAPORE - SEPTEMBER 14: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 14, 2018 in Singapore. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari started another Grand Prix weekend with a pace advantage over its closest rivals, Mercedes and Red Bull Racing. Although Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo went fastest in the first session (FP1) of the Singapore GP, it was Kimi Raikkonen who recorded the fastest time in the most important second free practice session (FP2).

Singapore GP – Takeaways from Friday Practice

Both free practice sessions happened in dry conditions, with the tarmac offering more grip in FP2. Red Bull topped the timesheets in FP1 with both drivers, but Raikkonen led Lewis Hamilton by 0.011 seconds in FP2 to set the fastest lap of the day.

The Pirelli tire choice for this race is the yellow-striped soft tire, the purple-striped ultrasoft tire, and the pink-striped hypersoft tire.

Sebastian Vettel’s start to the weekend

Sebastian Vettel had a normal FP1. But his run was cut short in FP2 after he touched the wall in the final sector. His Ferrari suffered hydraulic problems due to the crash, which ended his day.

The German was able to do only 12 laps and finished ninth in the standings. However, Vettel, who is pursuing his fifth drivers’ championship, could not take part in the long-run simulations in the final part of the session. Vettel’s Saturday will be hugely important for his chances on Sunday.

The main takeaways from the two practice sessions were:

  • Ferrari managed to be fastest of the day, but Mercedes and Red Bull seem to be closer than they were last year.
  • Mercedes’ Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas tested out the soft tire during the majority of FP1. While they finished second and fifth in FP2, respectively.
  • The Silver Arrows were not in the first places during FP1, but it was their choice since they elected to run the soft tire for a long stint.
  • Hamilton and Vettel had an encounter on the track which forced the British driver to lock his tires and almost collide into the Ferrari’s back.
  • Verstappen’s car had some smoke coming out of the rear but was able to continue his run in FP2 and finished third.
  • Raikkonen’s FP2 lap (1:38.699) was more than seven tenths faster than Vettel’s pole lap in 2017 (1:39.491).
  • Renault looks set for a strong weekend. Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz finished fifth and seventh in FP1, respectively. Then, it was the Spaniard who grabbed the sixth place, while the Hulk was tenth in FP2.
  • McLaren improved in FP2 which showed a lot of mixed teams in the middle of the pack, with Fernando Alonso going eighth fastest.
  • Force India seems to have taken a step back from the last two races, logically. Sergio Pérez‘ eleventh place in FP2 was the best result of the day for the pink squad.

The Last Word

Ferrari continues to be comfortable on the streets of Singapore. But it was Raikkonen who took the team on his shoulders, at least for Friday. Red Bull and Mercedes had a good Friday. They might have real chances at pole position on Saturday and the top spot on Sunday. One of the most important weekends of the season has started and Vettel did not show the perfect performance he’ll need over the course of this three days. Let’s see if he can improve for what’s coming next.

Results of FP1:

Results of FP2:

MAIN PHOTO:
Embed from Getty Images

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