What the teams said - Friday in Singapore
Hamilton certainly had the better day - after opting to explore the hard-compound tyre in FP1, the reigning world champion put his foot down in second practice to head the field, and score an important minor victory in what seems set to be a weekend-long battle with Verstappen. Bottas, though, had a day to forget - he crashed heavily in first practice, and was hesitant as a result in the evening, coming home a second adrift of his team mate.
Lewis Hamilton - FP1: 1:40.925, P3; FP2: 1:38.773, P1
"It's always a shock to the system when you first get in the car here in Singapore because it's very bumpy, it's a long lap and it's so hot out there - it's like a sauna in the car. But it's been a solid first day, we got through our run plan and continued to improve the car, so I'm really happy with it. I felt much better in the car today than I have for a while, so I hope I can keep that feeling over the weekend. They re-did a few bits of tarmac on the circuit and I managed to get the tyres working well. If you can get into a groove and into a rhythm here, it's such a beautiful lap, so I've really been enjoying it. But nothing's ever perfect and we definitely have some areas that we can still improve on. We've got off to a good start, but the Red Bulls looked very quick and we still have to put it all together tomorrow, which is not going to be easy."
Valtteri Bottas - FP1: 1:41.336, P4; FP2: 1:39.894, P4
"It's been a tricky day. I had a bit of an off moment at the end of FP1, which ended my running a little early. I lost the back end in Turn 19 and at this track with no run-off you pay the price. In the late session, I was lacking pace on every run and on both compounds, so I'm not quite sure everything was right with the car. It just felt like I couldn't go any quicker, so we'll need to have a look at that. I felt friction in the steering system, so I struggled to feel the car properly. I think it's going to be close between three teams tomorrow, so we'll have to push, especially in Q3."
Andrew Shovlin, Trackside Engineering Director
"We've not always had an easy time at this track but it looks like the car is working pretty well here this year. Lewis has had a very solid day, the pace looked good on low and high fuel and he's been happy with the car from the first run. There is always time to find on a circuit like this as the better the balance, the more the driver can push to the limit but we have a good baseline to work from with him. Valtteri has not had an easy day, he got caught out by a rear snap going into Turn 19 on the second run that finished his first session and caused quite a lot of damage. The car was repaired in impressive time, but he wasn't really comfortable at any stage in the second session so we've got a bit of work to do, picking through the data and seeing if we can spot anything that might be causing a problem. We were called to the see the stewards for a fuel temperature breach in the first session. We'd manage to set this to the wrong target temperature but luckily it was only a practice session otherwise we'd have received more than a fine."
Red Bull were expected to do well here and on today's pace, it looks like they will be very competitive. Verstappen was the pick of the drivers, pushing Hamilton close and having a steady day. Albon, though, is dealing with the pressure of being directly compared to his team mate for the first time. He doesn't know this track, but even so, two big lock-ups - one of which cost him his front wing - isn't the return he would have wanted from today.
Max Verstappen - FP1: 1:40.259, P1; FP2: 1:38.957, P2
“It was a good day. We are competitive and the car was working really well in both practice sessions. I had traffic in the last sector on my qualifying simulation and I only improved by two tenths compared to the hard tyre run, which means we have more to come. I think we look strong on long and short runs but of course, Lewis also looks very fast. It’s not an easy track to understand and it is very bumpy out there but with a competitive car it’s really enjoyable to drive. There are always things that can be improved which we will look at now and this race is 95 percent about qualifying and I’m feeling positive so far.”
Alex Albon - FP1: 1:41.467, P5; FP2: 1:39.943, P5
“This was not the easiest day. The tyres were a little difficult, especially on the long runs. But I’m focused on my performance and getting used to the car and it is feeling good. The most crucial thing for me now is to get into a rhythm as this is not an easy track. I did have an off which was not so great. I was pushing and had a lock up. I hit the barrier which took the front wing off. It did affect my confidence a little, but I was happy that even after that, my lap time was ok. I haven’t been on this circuit before but the sim correlates quite well. This track is so technical with a lot of corners so if I make one mistake it’s over. I need to go for clean driving while also pushing the limit. Also, everything over heats, not just me but the tyres and brakes, so that’s going to be an additional challenge. My hope for tomorrow is that I qualify in the second row but we shall see.”
Ferrari were expected to be slightly off the pace here, but their Friday got off to a decent start with Vettel looking quick. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for Leclerc, who lost half of first practice with an apparent gearbox issue. Under the lights, both drivers encountered traffic and thus didn't set fully representative lap times on the soft tyre. Going into tomorrow, it is a slight unknown just where the Scuderia are in comparison to their rivals.
Sebastian Vettel - FP1: 1:40.426, P2; FP2: 1:39.591, P3
"Hungary is the reference circuit for this track but today is maybe not the right day to compare and tomorrow will be a lot more straightforward. It was not the smoothest of Fridays for us and I think there’s still a margin for improvement on the car. However our rivals look very fast, certainly faster than us. The soft is the tyre we don't use so much, it has greater grip but doesn't last so long. Today was not that bad and the medium tyre was not much better. However, tomorrow we focus on the softs and when it comes to the race, as usual here, we will all be trying to survive on just one stop and manage the race. As I said we can still improve, because the car is not yet doing exactly what I want, and in terms of balance we know where we can find some lap time. All the new parts that we brought seem to work, so let’s see how close we can get tomorrow."
Charles Leclerc - FP1: 1:43.618, P19; FP2: 1:40.018, P6
"It was a rather tricky day on my side. We had an issue in FP1, so we couldn’t complete as many laps as we had planned, which was unfortunate. In the second session, I didn’t feel fully comfortable with the car balance or the track yet, and I think that there is also quite a bit of lap time to be gained by me improving my driving. We will analyse the data and make sure that we take a good step forward for tomorrow. Coming to Singapore, we knew that our competitors would be strong and that it would not be the easiest weekend for us. But it’s not finished yet. We will give our all to come back stronger tomorrow."
Norris had a couple of moments, locking up into Turn 7 and getting caught in traffic - which happened to take the form of his team mate. Once those two were done squabbling over the same piece of tarmac, they knuckled down and looked quick, which bodes well for tomorrow.
Carlos Sainz - FP1: 1:41.966, P7; FP2: 1:40.145, P7
“A good start to the weekend here in Singapore, improving the feeling with the car step-by-step, taking the right decisions on set-up and finishing the day with two top-10s. We need to stay alert though, because here the conditions change a lot from Friday to Saturday.
“Tomorrow we could find a different track and a different situation. We’ll work tonight to optimise the car and maximise our chances for qualifying.”
Lando Norris - FP1: 1:42.180, P8; FP2: 1:40.361, P9
“A decent day. Obviously it’s my first time here and I felt I got up to speed pretty quickly. In FP1, especially the first half, it was more just trying to learn the track, getting to know the references, braking points, all the main stuff. Then we could already start working on the car and making some improvements, which was good.
“FP2 was the first time we did the high-fuel, long-run stuff. We now have the data to see what was good, what was bad and what we need to improve on – but on the whole a decent and enjoyable day.”
James Key, Technical Director
“Singapore is a very challenging track but a great venue to come to. It’s the opposite of Monza and has a very different way of thinking about how we set the car up. FP1 involved some long changes in the garage, testing new aero components, so we had a bit of catching up to do in FP2. That went well.
“It looks, as always this season, very close in the midfield and we’ll have to work very hard to maximise our performance tomorrow. On the positive side, both drivers are happy with the car. Lando did a good job, being a rookie coming to a very technical circuit for the first time.”
Ricciardo seemed to struggle with the set-up of his R.S.19 more than his team mate, but managed to improve during second practice under the lights, which bodes well for qualifying. As for Hulkenberg, he looked very good today which given he is trying to secure a seat for next season, is a timely display of form.
Nico Hulkenberg - FP1: 1:41.812, P6; FP2: 1:40.324, P8
“It’s always tricky in Singapore as it’s a busy circuit and very humid. I felt at home on the low fuel runs and I had a good rhythm with the car doing what I wanted. The long runs seem to be more challenging at this stage and I struggled a bit in FP2. We’ll investigate that and see what’s going on. Apart from that, it was an okay Friday with no big issues. As expected, it will be tight this weekend but we have a competitive package to fight for points.”
Daniel Ricciardo - FP1: 1:42.527, P11; FP2: 1:40.811, P12
“Today seemed to go alright. I have a bit to find on short runs but I’m not too worried. I know we’ll find some pace quite easily, it’s just some small things. The long runs seemed a bit more positive. The car was certainly there, but I just need to put it all together. We’ll work on that tonight and analyse the data. Nico was well in the top 10 all day so it shows the potential of the car. I knew this would be trickier than Monza, but we’re not in bad shape.”
Marcin Budkowski, Executive Director
“It was a productive Friday for the team. We got through our programme as planned without any particular issues. We had decent pace on the soft tyre and we look in good shape for qualifying. Our long runs were trickier here and it’s going to be a case of getting the tyres to last. We have data to work through to identify the right strategy which will, of course, depend on our qualifying tyre and position. Both cars will be close and it will be a competitive fight in qualifying, where we’re targeting Q3.”
Haas had a poor Friday by all accounts. When the drivers managed clean laps, they seemed to be lacking pace with respect to their rivals. And on top of that, both were involved in moments - Grosjean spinning after taking too much kerb, and Magnussen touching the wall after getting the squeeze from Perez. Work to do overnight for the American squad.
Romain Grosjean - FP1: 1:42.630, P12; FP2: 1:41.392, P17
“It hasn’t been easy today. We know Singapore is a tough circuit and it can expose your weaknesses. We’ve tried our best today but there’s obviously some work we need to do for tomorrow and Sunday. At the minute it doesn’t look like being an easy one. Saying that, sometimes you find the little things that make a big chunk of lap time, especially on a street circuit. I’m not writing everything off, we’re just going to work hard and hopefully come back stronger tomorrow.”
Kevin Magnussen - FP1: 1:43.150, P16; FP2: 1:41.564, P19
“It was a little bit difficult today. We weren’t very fast, lots of sliding around, we don’t look fantastic. You never know, maybe things will change tomorrow, we’ve seen that before – but that’s all we can hope for. We’ll obviously do our best to see if we can find the issues, but at the moment it doesn’t look great. It’s very hot here, we need to cool the car a lot, so the aero spec is a bit different because of that. There are a lot of variables, a lot of things that could play into this lack of performance. It’s not easy to say these things, but we’ll work hard tonight.”
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal
“Not an ideal day, as we can see. We just need to work now to find some solutions for tomorrow. FP1, it’s always difficult to judge anything anyway, because of all the different temperatures between that and the race. Then FP2, it just wasn’t good. We need to look into it and hopefully come up with something for tomorrow. So, FP3 hopefully we learn something, then have a respectable qualifying.”
Toro Rosso had a quiet day, completing full programmes and gathering plenty of data for the team. The good news is that they look quick, both on the fringes of the top 10. But can they stay there when everyone else turns up their engines?
Daniil Kvyat - FP1: 1:42.305, P9; FP2: 1:40.713, P11
“We had a smooth Friday, we managed to finish the programme we set out for both of the sessions and we know there’s some work to do to improve our balance for tomorrow. I’m happy with today and I’m sure tomorrow we will learn more to try and optimise the car a bit better. I think there is more time to be gained and we will do our best to find it.”
Pierre Gasly - FP1: 1:42.377, P10; FP2: 1:40.637, P10
“It was a positive first day for us in Singapore. We did a few tests but we have some more work to do tonight to improve. Finishing in the top 10 in both sessions was a good start to the weekend and the pace looks decent. I think it will be really tight in qualifying, so it will be important to put things together overnight to give ourselves the best chance tomorrow. I’m feeling good in the car, which is encouraging.”
Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer
“Singapore is a favourite venue for many working within the team. It’s such an amazing track in the centre of the city and quite unique, as we start in daytime and end in the night which means we stay on European time. One of the obstacles this presents us with, is that because FP1 and FP3 are at such different times of the day compared to Quali and the Race, the track temperatures change a lot compared to the first sessions of Friday and Saturday. Because of this, what you learn in those sessions isn’t relevant to the next one on the same day.
"Singapore is a track where there’s much to be gained from the drivers as it’s a street circuit, so we always aim to give them as many laps as possible with a car that’s consistent to build up their confidence. In FP1, we had some background aero tests which all went to plan. We ran a rake on Pierre’s installation lap, and once we gathered all the information we needed, it was then a case of focussing on the car balance and following the track evolution. Even though we were looking quite competitive in FP1, we made a few changes heading into FP2 to be ready for different track conditions.
"The first runs on the Base tyre were extremely competitive so that was looking positive. Then on the Option we experienced some understeer, so we didn’t extract the most out of that tyre. Now we have a good idea of what we need to do for tomorrow. I think there’s margin for more performance on the low fuel runs, but our high fuel runs performance seemed okay.”
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director
“For the first day of practice for the Singapore GP, we had four cars in the top ten in FP1 and with both teams we were also competitive in the second session, which provides more useful information as conditions are similar to those for qualifying and the race. It’s a good start to the weekend and we hope we can continue like this for tomorrow’s qualifying.”
Alfa spent most of first practice working on gathering aero data, with both cars daubed in green flow-vis paint. Roll on second practice, and it looked like they would unleash their full potential. It wasn't to be though, with Raikkonen stuck in the garage with technical issues. However, the Finn does have a habit of delivering in qualifying, so don't discount the team from a surprise top 10 appearance.
Kimi Raikkonen - FP1: 1:42.786, P14; FP2: 1:41.232, P16
“It’s hard to say where we stand as our first session was quite messy. We lost all the electric power and therefore telemetry in the garage so I had to stand there for nearly an hour and I lost precious lap time. In FP2 we tried to catch up and we improved, but still we have an awful lot of work to do tomorrow.”
Antonio Giovinazzi - FP1: 1:42.677, P13; FP2: 1:41.564, P19
“It wasn’t the easiest of days, especially losing some track time in FP1, but in the end we managed to do a good job in the second session. As I expected, conditions in the car are really hard and I really felt the humidity, especially in FP2. The track is a proper street circuit, quite bumpy, and it’s hard to find the grip in places, but it got better as the sessions went on. We are quite close to our rivals in the midfield so the rest of the weekend should be a close battle. Qualifying in the top ten will be really important: overtaking is challenging here and if we start towards the front we have a good chance to stay there. We will need to analyse all the data from the car tonight, especially in regard to our new updates, and make sure we have a good, balanced car for tomorrow.”
It was a mixed bag for Racing Point. They looked quick at times, but ran their tyre compounds out of sync with the rest. Perez later found himself in hot water with the stewards, after squeezing Magnussen into the wall in FP2. The Mexican escaped with a reprimand for the incident.
Sergio Perez - FP1: 1:43.369, P18; FP2: 1:40.875, P13
“It’s always physically tough in the car here because the heat takes a lot out of you, but I really enjoy the experience: it’s a track that tests you as a driver and you have to build up your speed session by session. We still have a lot of work to do, but I think we have a car that can fight for a place in Q3. It’s always a positive to add new parts to the car and we have a huge amount of information to explore tonight so that we can choose the right direction for tomorrow.”
Lance Stroll - FP1: 1:42.791, P15; FP2: 1:41.128, P15
“It’s always fun driving here: it’s a very intense lap; you really have to keep your concentration and that’s not easy in these kind of conditions. We haven’t found the right balance for the car just yet and I really wasn’t comfortable in the performance runs. We probably got a bit too close to the walls for a Friday on a couple of occasions, but at the same time we have to use the practice sessions to explore the limits for the rest of the weekend. Looking ahead, we have plenty of work to do and we need to put it all together for tomorrow.”
Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal & CEO
“A busy day with lots to get through as we evaluated the new parts we’ve introduced to the car here in Singapore. It’s a difficult track in many respects and the drivers were not feeling too comfortable early on, but we gradually dialed the car into the track and they were feeling happier when we began the long runs this evening. Being a street circuit, qualifying is especially important here, so we need to focus our energy on improving our one-lap performance for tomorrow.”
A quiet day towards the rear of the field for Williams, with Kubica out-pacing his team mate in FP1 and Russell returning the favour in second practice. Can they figure further up the field? It doesn't look likely in qualifying, but in a chaotic race, stranger things have happened.
Robert Kubica - FP1: 1:43.336, P17; FP2: 1:42.177, P20
"It was hot and tough, but we knew it would be like that before coming here. It is the toughest track and the conditions are challenging. As usual, it is never easy to find the feeling on Friday in Singapore. FP1 was not bad, but I didn’t get the same feeling in the car in FP2, so we will have to see what we changed and why the balance shifted so much. We will look at the data and move forward from there."
George Russell - FP1: 1:43.993, P20; FP2: 1:41.445, P18
"I really enjoyed the practice sessions today. Singapore is a great place to drive, but definitely a difficult track where it is easy to make mistakes. I think we did a good job in FP2, the lap was really hooked up and the car was feeling relatively good. We have a solid baseline at the moment, but the lap times probably look a bit better than where our pace truly is. I want to go out and enjoy the challenge of driving in Singapore with the heat and humidity. If we can put it all together tomorrow, we may be rewarded."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer
"As usual, FP1 in Singapore was a little tricky and unrepresentative as the track was both hot and dusty. We spent our time getting both drivers up to speed with this demanding track and we also began to understand how the Option tyre compound will behave. We completed a couple of background checks which will help direct some of the development of the FW43 and were happy to complete the session to plan and with both drivers fairly happy with their cars.
"FP2 is the most useful and representative of the practice sessions in Singapore and as a result all cars completed a lot of laps. The session was generally quite quiet, and we were able to continue our tyre work, using the Qualifying C5 compound at low fuel and then splitting the cars between Option and Prime for the majority of the high fuel running.
"The car is performing reasonably well here, and we were quite close to both the Haas and Alfa Romeo cars in the evening session. There is a lot to do overnight but we will do everything necessary to give ourselves the best chance of a successful Q1 session tomorrow."
Mario Isola, Head of F1 and Car Racing
"There were no big surprises from free practice in Singapore, with the track and conditions similar to last year. This resulted in broadly similar lap times compared to 2018. The track is still evolving so let's see tomorrow. Despite the challenging conditions here – many drivers call this the toughest circuit physically of the entire year – we experienced no blistering or graining, with the teams accumulating plenty of useful data for a race that is likely to run to the full two hours. While the soft tyre dominated the action today, all three compounds were sampled. The medium and the hard look set to be viable race tyres as well: especially for those starting outside the top 10 on the grid, with a one-stopper quite likely as the optimal race strategy. With the big lap time gap between medium and soft seen so far, this makes qualifying on the medium appear to be quite a tall order."