Ferrari in control as Sainz leads one-two in Singapore practice
By Mat Coch
Saturday 16th September, 2023 - 12:04am
Carlos Sainz has headed another Ferrari one-two during practice for the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Spaniard was just 0.018s faster than team-mate Charles Leclerc in a positive day for the Prancing Horse.
Leclerc had been fastest ahead of Sainz in opening practice, while Max Verstappen was only eighth best at the end of Free Practice 2.
Though the sun had set, the mercury had barely moved from opening practice, with the ambient 29.8 as Free Practice 2 began.
Like had been the case earlier, the hard and medium compound tyres were the preferred options, the yellowed-walled rubber in particular.
After showing class-leading pace earlier in the day, Ferrari quickly rose to the top once more.
Carlos Sainz headed the way for much of the opening 10 minutes of running, though his 1:34.150s ultimately fell when Fernando Alonso banked a time a tenth faster with nine minutes on the clock.
That heralded the arrival of some performance runs, though not the full qualifying simulations that would follow later, with times rapidly dropping.
Sainz returned to the top soon after with a 1:33.303s on the medium rubber, suggesting the opening minutes were spent building into the session – and getting their eye in under the lights.
The upgraded Scuderia AlphaTauri was working well in the hands of Yuki Tsunoda, the Japanese driver rising to third best after 20 minutes.
Five minutes later, the circuit fell largely silent once more before drivers headed out to perform qualifying simulations.
It was a curtailed session for Alex Albon after Williams detected a power unit issue on his car.
That saw him stuck in the garage as the team worked to remedy the Mercedes in the back of his FW45.
With the soft tyres fitted, Ferrari solidified its position atop the timesheets with Sainz logging a 1:32.120s, 0.018s clear of team-mate Leclerc.
Max Verstappen was only sixth fastest at the time, his best seven-tenths down.
He was only a tenth clear of his Red Bull team-mate, Sergio Perez, who was complaining of a wayward rear end.
Third fastest was George Russell, following by Alonso who’d briefly been fastest earlier on.
It was the way the order remained for the balance of the session as focus once more shifted to long runs.
That left Lando Norris sixth best behind Lewis Hamilton, while Oscar Piastri was 15th, his fastest lap 1.3s away from Sainz’s best.
Liam Lawson continued to impress, the New Zealander 12th fastest in the Scuderia AlphaTauri, 0.2s faster than Yuki Tsunoda in the other car.
Perez improved by the end of the session to slot in ahead of Verstappen, the lead Red Bull more than 0.5s away from the ultimate pace, the pair in seventh and eighth respectively at the chequered flag.
A final hour of practice remains, held in the afternoon heat on Saturday before the sun sets once more prior to qualifying.