SINGAPORE — Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen might’ve had the edge during the first practice session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, but it was all Ferrari during Friday’s second practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.
Carlos Sainz raced to the top of the timesheets with a 1:42.587 lap time, just .208 seconds faster than his teammate, Charles Leclerc, who will be seeking a crucial victory this weekend in Singapore.
“Since the summer break, Red Bull seems to have made another step forward in terms of its competitiveness,” Leclerc said. “Usually, this season we have been strongest in qualifying, but in the race, for various reasons, we have let points slip away. If we want to aim much higher next year, we have to always strive to be perfect and we want to use these last six races to now start preparing for next year.”
While there are still five races left on the calendar after Singapore, point leader and reigning Formula 1 champion Verstappen is in a tremendously comfortable position in regard to the championship, giving Leclerc another reason to go into overdrive to keep his title hopes alive.
Should the stars align, Verstappen could secure his second world title this weekend.
If Verstappen can find the next level in qualifying at Marina Bay Street Circuit – he finished fourth with a fast time of 1:42.926 in Friday’s practice sessions – and put on a flawless performance on Sunday, he might have a shot.
As Verstappen’s closest rival, Leclerc would need to finish below eighth place and third-place Sergio Perez would need to finish fourth or worse in order to give Verstappen the best opportunity to wrap it up early.
For now, the Red Bull driver is focused on fine-tuning the car after the team decided to make several changes following the first practice session.
“Of course, there is still a lot of room for improvement and we still need to analyze whether the changes we made worked or not. I think where it matters most is tomorrow and how quick we can be over one lap,” Verstappen said.
His teammate Perez ended practice in ninth, citing engine reliability issues and various setup changes as contributors to his result.
After a strong showing in the first practice, Hamilton finished the day in fifth.
His Mercedes teammate, George Russell, secured third with a 1:42.911 lap time.