Red Bull gave Ferrari and Mercedes something to think about in Friday afternoon’s opening practice at Marina Bay, as Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen finished first and third, split by pre-race favourite Sebastian Vettel, with just a tenth of a second covering all three cars.
Ricciardo was always there or thereabouts, before setting the best time of 1m 42.489s on the Pirelli ultrasoft tyres, on which everybody bar Haas clocked their fastest laps.
For a while Verstappen was second with 1m 42.610s, before Vettel pushed his Ferrari between them with 1m 42.598s.
Interestingly, early pacesetter Hamilton was not far behind – 0.415s – as he set the fourth best time of 1m 42.904s in his Mercedes.
That suggests at this stage that there could be a six-way fight for honours in qualifying tomorrow, though it's early days and the track was still very green after torrential rain earlier this morning.
As Bottas and Kimi struggled with their respective set-ups – after changes the former said his car felt “undriveable” on his final run –Perez annexed the fifth best time for Force India ahead of them both, as Alonso was eighth for McLaren. Hulkenberg was ninth as Kvyat completed the top 10 for Renault and Toro Rosso respectively.
Kvyat was partnered for the first time by Indonesian Sean Gelael as part of his FP1 deal, and he lapped in 1m 47.570s for the 18th fastest time. Meanwhile at Haas Antonio Giovinazzi was back again, in Kevin Magnussen’s VF-17. As his team mate Romain Grosjean struggled throughout and had offs in Turns 1, 2 and 18, the Italian finished on his tail with 1m 46.782s against 1m 46.456s.
Down at Williams, Lance Stroll’s FW40 is being fitted with a new gearbox.