Formula 1: Hot Singapore start, Mercedes hopes for a three-way battle

Shocking moment in Singapore: At the start of the floodlit Formula 1 Grand Prix on Friday, not only are the candles burning on Max Verstappen’s birthday cake (since 25 today), but also Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri!

When the Frenchman parks in front of his pit crew in the second practice session, the air box of his AT03 suddenly catches fire. After all, the fiery incident ended comparatively lightly: the mechanics and Gasly got away with the shock, towards the end of the session the Frenchman was even able to drive out on the track again despite some burn marks on his car.

The best time of the day burned into the asphalt in the second session on Friday of Ferrari man Carlos Sainz. In the opening training under daylight, however, Lewis Hamilton has the edge. So the training already shows: Although world championship leader Verstappen can already win the title on Sunday, a march through – as recently with the five wins of the Dutchman in a row – is not to be expected due to the unique course characteristics and high temperatures in Singapore.

Max Verstappen can already win the title in Singapore

“Things got off to a good start for us in the first practice session, but we tried something for the second practice session: the changes took a little longer, so I didn’t drive much and what we showed there wasn’t very representative,” explains Verstappen. who only does seven laps under floodlights. But the championship leader isn’t worried: “It’s not the end of the world. What’s most important here is that you’re quick over a lap.” At the end of Verstappen’s fastest lap, the Dutchman is 0.339 seconds behind Sainz, which he loses mainly in the third sector.

At Ferrari, however, only the Spaniard is happy, teammate Charles Leclerc struggles with Scuderia despite second place. First, the world championship second loses half an hour in the pits because of a technical problem, then Ferrari sends him into traffic for his quick attempts: “Come on, we have to do that better,” mocks the Monegasque on the radio.

On the other hand, the mood is better at Mercedes: For Hamilton, his best time at the start is the first best time in training of the whole season: “The car runs better here, we are not miles away,” said Mercedes sports director Toto Wolff. “We knew beforehand that this track suits us better. That’s why I think we can intervene in the fight here,” the Viennese hopes that his team can still avert a historic bankruptcy.

Fastest man: Carlos Sainz with best time on Friday

Because Hamilton threatens the first winless season of his Formula 1 career so far in 2022. Since 2007, the Briton has always been able to win at least one Grand Prix per year. “Lewis says he doesn’t care about those stats, but if we get a good result here it would at least mean that our data analysis is correct now. That would be important, as would getting closer to the pace of Max and the Ferraris ‘ explains Wolff.

Mainly due to the high-downforce package required in Singapore, with which the Silver Arrow feels much more comfortable this year than on high-speed circuits like Monza recently, many experts rate Singapore as Mercedes’ best chance on the remaining six circuits. Hamilton ended Friday in fifth place, teammate George Russell was third, but found himself in the emergency exit once in both sessions.

After a three-year Corona break, the street circuit in Singapore is particularly dusty on Friday, many drivers have their problems and distribute a wall kiss or two. However, Lance Stroll exaggerated it a bit: The Canadian hit the wall so hard in turn four in the first practice session that he destroyed the rear wheel suspension and practice was briefly interrupted with the red flag.

Mick Schumacher has to get to know the track first

Aston Martin team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who is the record driver in Singapore with five wins and will be on the track for the last time this weekend, ended the day in eleventh and twelfth place. Things are going much worse for Mick Schumacher: In the Haas, the German was unable to match the pace of his teammate Kevin Magnussen in both training sessions and ultimately finished 18th and 19th, more than a second behind Magnussen.

For Schumi Jr. it is different than for his stable mate, however, the premiere on the demanding street circuit: “It was pretty warm, but it was a lot of fun. I’m still learning the track and it’s pretty unique, so you have to get used to it get used to it a bit,” explains Schumacher. The Haas driver adds: “It’s just about driving and collecting laps. If everything fits, then you can start working on the set-up. We’re planning that tonight.”

Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix
2. Free Practice

1. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spain) – Ferrari 1:42.587 mins
2. Charles Leclerc (Monaco) – Ferrari +0.208s
3. George Russell (Great Britain) – Mercedes +0.324
4. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) – Red Bull +0.339
5. Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) – Mercedes +0.595
6. Esteban Ocon (France) – Alpine +0.825
7. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) – Alfa Romeo +0.844
8. Fernando Alonso (Spain) – Alpine +0.933
9. Sergio Perez (Mexico) – Red Bull +1.319
10. Lance Stroll (Canada) – Aston Martin +1.395
11. Lando Norris (Great Britain) – McLaren +1.426
12. Sebastian Vettel (Heppenheim) – Aston Martin +1.662
13. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) – Haas +1.835
14. Pierre Gasly (France) – Alpha Tauri +1.882
15. Zhou Guanyu (China) – Alfa Romeo +1.937
16.Alexander Albon (Thailand)-Williams +2.557
17. Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) – Alpha Tauri +2,624
18. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) – McLaren +2.860
19. Mick Schumacher (Gland/Switzerland) – Haas +3.036
20. Nicholas Latifi (Canada) – Williams +3,966

Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix
1. Free practice

1. Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) – Mercedes 1:43.033 min.
2. Max Verstappen (Netherlands) – Red Bull +0.084s
3. Charles Leclerc (Monaco) – Ferrari +0.402
4. Sergio Perez (Mexico) – Red Bull +0.806
5. George Russell (Great Britain) – Mercedes +1.033
6. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) – Ferrari +1.105
7. Esteban Ocon (France) – Alpine +1.703
8. Lance Stroll (Canada) – Aston Martin +2.188
9. Pierre Gasly (France) – Alpha Tauri +2.225
10. Fernando Alonso (Spain) – Alpine +2.303
11. Sebastian Vettel (Heppenheim) – Aston Martin +2.321
12. Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) – McLaren +2.691
13. Valtteri Bottas (Finland) – Alfa Romeo +2.692
14. Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) – Haas +2.995
15. Yuki Tsunoda (Japan) – Alpha Tauri +3.048
16.Alexander Albon (Thailand)-Williams +3.086
17. Zhou Guanyu (China) – Alfa Romeo +3.375
18. Mick Schumacher (Gland/Switzerland) – Haas +3.568
19. Lando Norris (Great Britain) – McLaren +3.647
20. Nicholas Latifi (Canada) – Williams +4.059

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