FP1: Leclerc heads Sainz as Ferrari set the pace in opening practice session at the Singapore Grand Prix
Ferrari continued their fine form from their home race in Monza as Charles Leclerc led a Scuderia one-two in the opening practice session in Singapore. Leclerc set the pace narrowly ahead of team mate Carlos Sainz, with championship leader Max Verstappen in third.
With the European portion of the season now complete, the drivers arrived at Marina Bay greeted by intense heat, with air temperatures at 32 degrees Celsius, as they looked to find their feet in this fast-paced street circuit.
While many drivers opted to bolt on the hard tyres to start proceedings, a few strapped on a set of the mediums. And it was one of those medium tyre runners in Lando Norris – sporting a new ‘stealth’ mode livery and a whole host of new upgrades on his McLaren – that set the pace after the first 30 minutes of action.
The drivers then made the switch to the soft tyres, but as they prepared to set some fast times yellow flags were briefly waved as a lizard made its way across the track in the second sector, much to Verstappen’s amusement.
FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX 2023
Practice 1 results
|1 Charles Leclerc LEC Ferrari
|2 Carlos Sainz SAI Ferrari
|3 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing
|4 Lando Norris NOR McLaren
|5 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes
And even though more lizards would disrupt proceedings Leclerc was able to go fastest with a time of 1m 33.350s, to lead Sainz by just 0.078s, as Ferrari showed a good turn of pace as preparations begun ahead of this weekend's action.
Verstappen wound up third as he looks to get his first win at Singapore this weekend, while Norris impressed in his newly-upgraded car to finish fourth for McLaren, ahead of the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
Last year's winner Sergio Perez was seventh, ahead of two-time Singapore GP winner Fernando Alonso, who was eighth for Aston Martin, ahead of the AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda, and his former Alpine team mate Esteban Ocon in 10th.
Aston Martin's Lance Stroll was 11th, ahead of the Alpine of Pierre Gasly, and Alex Albon – who along with team mate Logan Sargeant is sporting a new fan-designed livery on his Williams this week. Valtteri Bottas was 14th for Alfa Romeo ahead the lead Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Liam Lawson continued to deputise for Daniel Ricciardo – who was on the AlphaTauri pit wall watching on – as the Kiwi went 16th, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Zhou Guanyu – fresh from agreeing his new contract extension with Alfa Romeo.
Oscar Piastri, who will have to wait till Japan next week to have the full upgrades like his team mate Norris, was 19th for McLaren, ahead of his fellow rookie Sargeant, who was at the bottom of the field.
With this weekend's first on-track outing at Marina Bay now in the books the drivers will now chew over the data ahead of the second practice session under the lights later today at 21:00 local time.