Max Verstappen went quickest in final practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, with the Red Bull Racing driver edging Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by just seven hundredths of a second. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was third as Friday’s fastest man, Daniel Ricciardo, failed to complete a qualifying-style run after clipping the wall late in the session.
Vettel made the early running, working his way to a time of 1:43.237 on ultrasoft tyres in the first 15 minutes of the session. Lewis Hamilton briefly held second place with a lap just under a adrift of the German but he was soon bumped to third by Kimi Räikkönen in the second Ferrari, with the Finn lapping in a time of1:44.176, 0.939 behind his team-mate.
However, 25 minutes into the session, the quickest men in second practice – Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen – took to the track and the pair made an immediate impression. Ricciardo’s first timed lap vaulted him to P2, 0.310 behind Vettel and then Verstappen jumped to top spot with a lap of 1:42.249. Ricciardo then improved to 1:42.517 to take second place, seven tenths of a second ahead of Vettel.
Just after the halfway point the red flags came out when Marcus Ericsson hit the wall late in his lap. The Swede lost control of the rear of his Sauber and spun backwards into the barriers, smashing the rear wing of his car and shipping substantial rear end damage. He was able to limp back to the pits, however, where his team began repairs.
When the session resumed Vettel was the first to show, with the Ferrari drivers posting a time of 1:41.919 to better Verstappen’s first half benchmark by 0.330s. He then lowered it marginally to 1:41.901. Hamilton split the Red Bull’s with a lap of 1:42.425, though neither Red Bull had yet returned to the action following the red flag.
That changed with 10 minutes left on the clock when both Verstappen and Ricciardo emerged for their quali simulations. Verstappen was qwuickly into his stride, re-taking first place with a lap of 1:41.829.
Ricciardo though hit trouble, clipping the wall as he worked through the second sector. There was no substantial damage but he abandoned his lap and headed back to the garage.
Within moments, his tea-mate was doing the same. Verstappen slowed dramatically and reported that his car was changing gear by itself. He too was told to return to the pits.
Verstappen then finished on top ahead of Vettel and Hamilton. Fourth place in the session went to McLaren’s Fernando Alonso who put in an impressive lap of 1:42.383. Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was fifth, just five hundredths of a second behind the Spaniard.
Sixth place went to Ricciardo, though the Australian failed to put in a qualifying simulation. Behind him, Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Renault ahead of Bottas, with Räikkönen ninth ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.