Red Bull again proved the team to beat in Friday evening’s second practice in Singapore, with Daniel Ricciardo leading the way from team mate Max Verstappen. This time it was Mercedes rather than Ferrari who were their closest challengers, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas third and fourth fastest.
Ricciardo and Verstappen had a lock on the session from the start, and after trading fastest times early on the issue was settled in the Australian’s favour when he posted a lap of 1m 40.852s on the ultrasoft Pirelli tyres - the quickest ever circuit of Marina Bay. His Dutch team mate brushed a wall, and was unable to better his mark of 1m 41.408s.
It was a very smooth and collected Hamilton who got closest to them, albeit seven-tenths down, after Vettel aborted his out-of-sequence run on ultras having stumbled across traffic. The German then whacked a wall and ripped down an advertising hoarding, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car temporarily while the debris was cleared. Thankfully for him, his Ferrari escaped damage.
Hamilton lapped his Mercedes in 1m 41.555s on the purple rubber, on which everyone bar Vettel set their best times, and was followed by team mate Bottas on 1m 42.104s.
Nico Hulkenberg was again on strong form for Renault with 1m 42.448s for fifth ahead of the McLarens of Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez’s Force India, a subdued Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari and Esteban Ocon in the second Force India. Vettel was an unrepresentative 11th on 1m 43.104s, which he set on the soft tyre.
On race pace the Red Bulls also looked good, with Mercedes a little bit behind.
Once again Romain Grosjean was in the wars for Haas, spinning in Turn 7, going off later in Turn 2, and complaining of poor front tyre performance and gearbox problems. Team mate Kevin Magnussen was another to brush the Singapore walls, as was Renault’s Jolyon Palmer.
Carlos Sainz, back in his Toro Rosso after Sean Gelael drove it in FP1, went off in Turn 18 early on, later complained that revised settings weren’t working, then ran down the escape road in Turn 18 right at the end.