Charles Leclerc topped the first practice session for the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, kicking off Ferrari’s Formula 1 weekend at the Marina Bay Circuit in the best way possible.
While it may be too early to take make any predictions from the first session which is not very representative to the race and qualifying conditions, it is nevertheless a decent start for Ferrari as Carlos Sainz posted the second-fastest time in the sister Ferrari behind his teammate.
Max Verstappen was third fastest in the Red Bull, but as usual, the reigning F1 Champion looked formidable in his long runs.
Lando Norris, whose McLaren had a major upgrade bolted to it was fourth fastest in the McLaren.
Buildup towards FP1
After a short break, F1 is back in Singapore, one of the most physically demanding races on the calendar for both drivers and cars, due to the extreme heat and the brutal humidity.
But it remains one of the most race fans and drivers look forwards to, a race that runaway Championship leader Verstappen has not won before, and he will be intent on sorting that matter this weekend.
The track will have a slightly revised layout this weekend due to developments around the tracks meaning the corners between 16 and 19 are now a straight.
Red Bull are downplaying their chances this weekend adamant the Marina Bay Circuit will be a challenge to them, and as much as we and their rivals would like to believe them, the remain the team to beat. Don’t forget, Sergio Perez won the race last year.
But that doesn’t mean the teams behind them might be reshuffled, maybe Mercedes enjoying a better weekend with the high downforce nature of the race, while McLaren and Aston Martin may be slightly better as well, while it would be interesting to see if Ferrari do well following their strong weekend at Monza last time out.
On other fronts, Daniel Ricciardo remains on sick leave, but is present in the Singapore paddock as Liam Lawson continues deputizing for him at AlphaTauri, while Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu should be fired up after the team confirmed him for 2024.
Ricciardo is reportedly in Singapore to help AlphaTauri with setup advice for the car, and area Lawson and Yuki Tsunoda are lacking in.
Williams will catch the eye this weekend as well, but not for overachieving like they did at Monza, they will probably be rubbish in Singapore, but they will do so in style with their gorgeous “Bolder than Bold” Gulf livery.
The FIA have also debuted a new front wing test procedures to clamp down on some solutions teams have found to make their wings flex under load.
Pirelli went soft for Singapore with their C3 (Hard), C4 (Medium), and C5 (Soft) tyres available for the teams.
Early signs show that McLaren’s upgrades are working well, as halfway into the session Norris was leading the timing screens, over two tenths faster than George Russell.
In the second half of the session, the teams started bolting on the Soft tyres after a mix of Hards and Mediums were used in the first half, getting some early idea of how qualifying will look like this weekend in Singapore.
The first Yellow flag of the session came up with 27 minutes remaining on the clock, as a lizard made it’s way on the track. It seems it wasn’t the first time as Verstappen said over the team radio: “There’s a lizard again on the track, a smaller one this time.”
To which his race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase jokingly responded: “Ok understood, maybe Godzilla had a kid.”
“I think it makes sense,” was the Dutchman’s response who came along a lizard on track back in 2016 and he nicknamed it Godzilla.