It was expected that a Red Bull could challenge Mercedes this weekend, and Max Verstappen laid down the gauntlet to the world champions, by lapping the Marina Bay street circuit in 1:45.823, just 0.049 ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Sebastian Vettel showed his ever-consistent pace around the streets is still there by finishing third, ahead of the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, although their fastest times were on the Soft tyre, compared to the Ultrasoft for those ahead. A late crash at T18, ended Rosberg’s session ten minutes early.
Kimi Raikkonen hauled his Ferrari to sixth in the dying moments of the first 90 minutes of on-track action, ahead of an impressive showing from the Toro Rosso’s of Carlos Sainz and Danill Kvyat in seventh and eighth.
Felipe Massa and Esteban Gutierrez rounded out the top 10, in a session where it was shown Mercedes would not have it all their own way this weekend and a possible three-way fight for the win is in store.
Button problems and Halo testing
Almost immediately Jenson Button ground to a halt in his McLaren, just in sight of the pit-lane. Whilst the VSC was deployed, the marshals, luckily for Button and McLaren pushed him back into the pit-lane, thus rescuing the rest of his session.
After the brief stoppage, whilst all the drivers were in the pits, having completed their installation laps, it was Rosberg who a mid 1:47 for the first timed lap of the weekend. Hamilton, running the Halo for the first time was quickly bettering what the sister W07 was doing to end the initial runs, on Ultrasoft tyres 1.8s clear of Raikkonen.
Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg were the other two drivers to be testing the Halo, although neither completed a fast timed lap with it fitted.
Verstappen then became the first driver of the weekend to brush up against the wall on the exit of T21, doing so only very lightly, before Vettel came through minutes later and did so considerably harder, although there was no damage.
On a long stint with the Ultrasofts, which were holding up well, Verstappen pipped Hamilton to P1, by 0.034, before Rosberg obliterated it with a time 0.8 faster on the Soft tyre, although h may’ve been running less fuel.
Grosjean’s American Dream continues to soar
After such a promising start in Formula One, Haas’s debut season has started to get worse, with Romain Grosjean increasingly critical of the VF-16’s performance. A battery issue prevented him from completing any timed laps, with just two install laps all he had to show for FP1.
On another set of Ultrasoft’s Verstappen eventually went quickest with the 1:45.823, but only after Vettel and Ricciardo had had time at the summit of the timing screens.
With just 13 minutes left on the clock, Rosberg crashed into the barrier at T18, where so many drivers have been caught out over the years, losing his front wing and limping back to pits, not emerging again in the time remaining.
|1.||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:45.823|
|2.||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+0.049|
|7.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Toro Rosso||+1.113|
|8.||Danill Kvyat||Toro Rosso||+1.860|
|12.||Sergio Perez||Force India||+2.391|
|13.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||+2.536|
|22.||Romain Grosjean||Haas||No time set|