His career at Ferrari might be drawing to an end, but Kimi Raikkonen gave a reminder of the speed he still possesses, heading Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes around the flood-lit streets of Singapore in Free Practice 2.
Running in the proper night-time conditions that the drivers will face both in Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race, Raikkonen posted a time of 1m 38.699s on the pink hypersofts – the very softest tyre in Pirelli’s range, making its third appearance of the year this weekend – but Hamilton’s quickest lap was just 0.011s shy of the Finn’s time. That will encourage Mercedes, whose longer wheelbase car is, on paper, less agile than their Ferrari and Mercedes rivals around therefore less suited to the sinuous street circuit.
Behind Raikkonen and Hamilton came the two Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo in third and fourth. The Milton Keynes team had claimed a one-two in the late afternoon’s Free Practice 1 session. But as both Ferrari and Mercedes turned up their engines for the qualifying simulation runs, Verstappen found himself over half a second adrift of the leading pace, with Ricciardo a further tenth behind. The team will be hoping that FP2 was a blip at what they believe should be a strong track for the downforce-focussed RB14.
Renault once again headed the midfield in Singapore, with Carlos Sainz going P6 on a track where he recorded his best-ever Formula 1 finish of fourth last year with Toro Rosso. A comfortable position it was not, however, with Romain Grosjean’s Haas and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren both within two-tenths of him – a particularly encouraging result for McLaren after their recent struggles.