Ferrari sweeps Singapore practice as Sainz top FP3
By Mat Coch
Saturday 16th September, 2023 - 8:39pm
Carlos Sainz has seen Ferrari clean sweep practice for the Singapore Grand Prix after topping Saturday’s session.
Sainz led George Russell in Saturday’s 60-minute outing while Max Verstappen and Red Bull continued to battle.
The Dutchman was only fourth best, and unimpressed with the performance of his car.
Alfa Romeo Sauber kicked off proceedings, heading out as the session began.
Conditions were largely similar to what had been seen in opening practice, with 31-degree air temperature and 39-degree track temp.
A key difference was tyre selection, with a mix of all three compounds in use.
That saw George Russell fastest for Mercedes on the soft compound tyres, 0.2s clear of Max Verstappen after 20 minutes.
Ferrari soon upset that order with Carlos Sainz rising to the top of the timesheets on a 1:33.195s – a time 0.2s faster than Russell despite using the medium compound rubber.
Liam Lawson had a spin at Turn 2, looping the Scuderia AlphaTauri as he applied the throttle around the right-hander.
The back end quickly stepped out, the New Zealander stamping on the brakes as he slid to a stop just shy of the Tecpro barrier.
Red Bull was still without the prodigious pace it has been accustomed to this season, Sergio Perez complaining of the front end sliding as he sat 12th midway through the session.
Team-mate Verstappen was fourth, 0.7s back from the outright pace though having used only a set of medium rubber.
Russell had returned to the top of the timesheets after bolting on a set of soft tyres, logging a 1:32.883s.
He was followed by Lewis Hamilton who was second best, also on a set of softs, with a 1:33.105s.
McLaren was still evaluating its upgrade package, with flo vis paint applied to the front wing of Lando Norris’ car.
He sat sixth with 20 minutes to run, while team-mate Oscar Piastri was 15th and 0.8s slower than the lead McLaren.
Russell improved on his earlier best with 19 minutes to run, logging a 1:32.364s – a time still 0.2s away from the best lap set by Sainz on Friday evening.
On his qualifying sim, Esteban Ocon rose to second, though 0.6s behind Russell, a time which became third-best when Norris banked a 1:32.303s.
Piastri followed up his team-mate’s effort by recording the fourth-best time, a 1:32.730s to leave the two McLarens separated by the two Mercedes.
With 10 minutes remaining, Ferrari returned to the top of the timesheets with Sainz setting the fastest lap of the weekend to date.
His 1:32.065s was 0.2 better than Norris had managed and reinforced the pace the Scuderia has shown on Friday.
That contrasted with Verstappen at Red Bull, who was still struggling for pace and cutting a less-than-pleased figure on the radio to the team.
The Dutchman was only sixth best after Charles Leclerc went fourth, the championship leader 0.5s away from the front of the field.
Inside the final four minutes, Russell went second best, his time within a tenth of what Sainz had managed earlier.
It proved a frenetic conclusion to the session with most leaving their performance runs late – presumably to have conditions that most closely resembled what would be experienced in qualifying later.
That saw Verstappen climb to fourth best inside the final minute, moving to 0.3s away from Sainz with a 1:32.378s.
Verstappen remained far from happy, complaining about both up and downshifts in his RB19.
With Sainz fastest, Ferrari topped all three practice sessions ahead of qualifying.
Russell was second for Mercedes ahead of Norris, while Piastri slipped back to seventh as the chequered flag fell in the other McLaren.
Liam Lawson was 16th fastest in the Scuderia AlphaTauri, his 1:33.357s some 0.4s away from team-mate Yuki Tsunoda who was 10th fastest.