Nico Rosberg recovered from his shunt in Free Practice 1 to set the fastest time in the second session in Singapore, as his Mercedes team mate and championship rival Lewis Hamilton’s session was curtailed by hydraulic issues with half an hour to go, leaving him seventh.
Rosberg took top spot with a 1:44.152 on a set of ultrasoft tyres, clocking a time more than two tenths faster than the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and in excess of three tenths ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull; his team mate Daniel Ricciardo clouted the barriers at Turn 11 with minimal damage, before setting his fastest time, good enough for fourth. The tight twisting street circuit levelled the playing field somewhat, compared to the Silver Arrows’ domination a fortnight ago in Monza.
Not the day Hamilton needed
Hamilton initially took provisional top spot with an early time of 1:45.275, but had a disastrous Qualifying simulation programme, with traffic and uncharacteristic mistakes wasting a valuable run on an second set of ultrasofts. After complaining of excess heat coming from the right hand side of the cockpit of his W07, Hamilton’s Friday night came to a close with several concerned faces mulling around the right rear side of his car, confirmed to be a hydraulic problem of an undefined sort, as of the time of writing.
Rosberg, who had a comfortable Qualifying run, gave himself a buffer over the Red Bulls and Ferraris, with Nico Hulkenberg pulling his Force India up to the sharp end of the timing screens, clocking the sixth fastest time, a fraction over a second off of his compatriot’s time.
Rosberg’s session wasn’t entirely problem free though, noting a potentially terminal brake issue with a little under ten minutes left. Mercedes’ Singapore woes look as if they could be in danger of continuing. In the hot and sticky atmosphere under the lights in Marina Bay, that could be a welcome breeze for the chasing pack.
Mercedes were not the only team to suffer with problems. Romain Grosjean’s Haas swapped ends at the final corner, resulting in a meeting with the barrier. He limped round for another lap with his rear wing propped up by a thread, a new low drag design that was undeniably unwelcome around here.
Sebastian Vettel, a four time winner around the streets, and victor here last year settled into fifth, just ahead of Hulkenberg, and like his fellow German, one whole second off of Rosberg.
Manor still finding things tough
With race simulations done, Manor look to be the big strugglers, their lack of grip apparent - with both Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon well off the pace, on average six seconds a lap slower on heavy fuel than the front runners. The longest race on the calendar may seem that little bit longer for the minnows. Ocon also tested the structural strength of his MRT05, playing pinball with the walls in Sector 2, but surviving to tell the tale with just a few superficial paintwork scrapes.
As the session ground to a halt, so did the McLaren-Honda of eighth fastest man Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard cited gearbox problems, parking in the vast run off area at Turn 18. His team mate, Jenson Button had a quiet run to twelfth, nearly a second off of Alonso.
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull-Racing||1:44.532||+0.380||29|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Racing||1:44.557||+0.405||26|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1:45.182||+1.030||35|
|8||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso||1:45.507||+1.355||33|
|10||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:46.029||+1.877||35|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||1:46.063||+1.911||26|