Carlos Sainz maintained Ferrari’s momentum, topping the second practice for the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, leading Charles Leclerc, while Red Bull endured their worst Friday in 2023.
While Leclerc topped the first practice, Sainz took over in the second session as the Scuderia seemed to be setting the pace under the floodlights of the Marina Bay Circuit.
Red Bull on the other hand were nowhere to be seen close to the top three, as Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez both struggled with their RB19s, unable to fin grip around the street track, both struggling to keep the rear of the car under control.
That comes despite Red Bull bringing a revised floor to their car in Singapore, however, in the end Perez was seventh fastest while Verstappen was eighth, in what could signal the end of Red Bull’s incredible run of wins so far in the 2023 Formula 1 season, unless they sort out the car setup for Saturday.
In a nutshell, Red Bull and Verstappen have a long night ahead of them if they are to turn their situation around before qualifying on Saturday.
Mercedes seemed to be in decent shape behind the Ferraris while Fernando Alonso in the Aston Martin showed some strong pace on the long runs.
Ferrari had a decent start to their weekend in Singapore as Leclerc set the pace in FP1 with Sainz just behind him while Verstappen was not far off, while seemingly still fine tuning his RB19 and not yet fully satisfied with its setup.
McLaren seem to be in good shape as well, especially with Lando Norris who has the full upgrade package unlike Oscar Piastri who will have to wait until he gets all the new bits. Norris was featuring at the sharp end of the standings throughout FP1 and seemed to be fast as well on the longer runs, albeit slower than Verstappen.
Despite coming to Singapore with hopes of being competitive, Mercedes seem they still have work to do to dial in their W14 while Aston Martin do not look strong so far on one lap pace, but were better on the longer runs.
Interestingly was the Yellow flag waved twice, and not because any driver went off track, but because of lizards invading the track a couple of time, which would make matters interesting should it be repeated during qualifying, meaning the drivers will have to be wary of an extra factor!!
The second practice session, however, should give us a better idea about the pecking order this weekend as it will be taking place under conditions similar to those of qualifying and the race.
Singapore FP2 session highlights
FP2 started with the sun setting and Marina Bay Circuit now illuminated by flood lights. The temperatures were down, 30 degrees ambient and 37 degrees for the track but the humidity was worse, up to 73%.
The session started with most drivers setting out on Medium tyres, only Norris, Pierre Gasly, Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon, and Valtteri Bottas on the Hard compound.
Albon soon reported power loss coming out of the last corner asking the team to check for any issues, and was instructed to pit.
With 15 minutes gone from the session, Lance Stroll was lucky to get away with a scrape with the wall at Turn 15, while Leclerc locked up going into Turn 14 while on a hot lap and had to abort.
Verstappen also got out of shape going into Turn 13 and had to abort his lap, admitting over the team radio that he “lost it” adding the he would be boxing, not happy with his RB19’s handling.
TV replay showed that Albon’s Williams was being taken apart by the mechanics, as it seems there is an with the #23 FW45, the Thai driver unable to run any further.
Almost halfway through the session, the teams starting their qualifying simulations with Soft tyres making their FP2 debut.
Logan Sargeant almost had a big crash losing the rear of his Williams at Turn 10 while at high speed, but somehow manages to keep it together.
Verstappen still didn’t seem to be happy with his car as his first attempt on Soft tyres put him in seventh place, and seven tenths of the pace at the 35-minute mark. Could that be because he was using the old floor in FP2?
Verstappen was not the only Red Bull driver to be suffering, as Perez reported he is struggling with the rear of his car, despite having the new floor.
The Mexican reported over the radio: “It’s just not coming mate. Every braking zone I feel like I’m gonna crash. The rear is just stepping out massively.”
Perez soon has a close call with Sainz, as he was slower on the racing line in front of the Ferrari. Stroll one again was out of shape riding the curbs hard into Turn 7, but kept going.
In the final 12 minutes of the session, all teams set out on racing simulations with high fuel loads, which showed that Verstappen was struggling as well compared to his teammate.
Fernando Alonso was posting consistently fast time on the long runs in the Aston Martin while Ferrari showed some drop in performance.
How they finished
Sainz posted a 1:32.120 to go fastest of all in FP2, 0.018s ahead of teammate Leclerc who was second fastest in the sister Red Car.
George Russell was third fastest in the Mercedes, 0.235s off the pace while Alonso was 0.123s further down the road, fourth fastest behind the Briton.
Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest in the other Mercedes, over two tenths of a second slower than his teammate and was 0.126s faster than McLaren’s Norris, who was sixth fastest.
Perez was up next in the Red Bull, seventh fastest, 0.692 of the pace while Verstappen was 0.040s off his teammate’s pace in eighth.
Kevin Magnussen was ninth fastest with Valtteri Bottas rounding off the top ten.