Sainz and Leclerc go top after dark in Singapore FP2

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari F1-75. 30.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Practice
© XPB 

Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc took charge of proceedings in second practice for the Singapore Grand Prix, with George Russell third quickest for Mercedes.

Max Verstappen had limited running and completed only seven laps to go fourth fastest, as the Red Bull mechanics worked on an unspecified glitch with the RB18. Team mate Sergio Perez also lost time after scuffing the wall on an early flying lap.

Having topped the times in the first session earlier in the day, Lewis Hamilton was only fifth quickest in FP2 followed by Esteban Ocon, Valtteri Bottas and Fernando Alonso after Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri caught fire in the pits.

Nicholas Latifi (CDN) Williams Racing FW44. 30.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Practice

For the first time in three years, Formula 1 cars were back in action under the dazzling spotlights of Singapore's Marina Bay Street Circuit for Free Practice 2, with the two Alfa Romeos of Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu leading the way as the lights at the end of pit lane went green, on medium and hard tyres respectively. Bottas went on to set the first time of the late evening with a lap of 1:45.839s, with Zhou three seconds behind on the slower compound.

George Russell then took over, the Mercedes setting a new top time of 1:44.661s on mediums. Also in action early were the AlphaTauris of Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly, and Haas' Mick Schumacher, while Nicholas Latifi was distracted by ill-fitting seat belts in the Williams.

Having topped the times in FP1, Lewis Hamilton's first lap was half a second quicker than Russell putting him briefly back at the top. Carlos Sainz was in action for Ferrari and debuted in a subdued fifth behind Alpine's Esteban Ocon, but his team mate was slow to make a move and the two Red Bull drivers Max verstappen and Sergio Perez were also slow to get going, maybe finishing off Max's 25th birthday cake before squeezing themselves into their respective cockpits.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB18 leaves the pits. 30.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Practice

By now the drivers were picking up the pace, with Russell pushing hard only to end up running wide at turn 11 again just as he had done in the earlier session. Fernando Alonso had more luck, going second behind Hamilton before Sainz then punched in a time of 1:43.710s to go to the top of the timing screens. Hamilton accepted the challenge and retook the initiative by 0.042s on his next push, but having briefly pitted Sainz soon fought back and went top again with a time of 1:43.231s, while Russell also nudged back ahead of Alonso for third.

Gasly was the next driver to go astray, taking to the run-off at turn 18 after 20 minutes of running. Verstappen had finally taken to the track albeit on hard tyres at this point, emerging just as everyone else was heading back to pit lane. The clear track allowed him to put in the fifth quickest time so far, but 1.4s behind Sainz. Williams' Alex Albon was then the first of a number of drivers to head out on the red-walled soft tyres as qualifying simulations got underway.

Showing no lingering after-effects from his appendicitis scare in Monza, Albon took the opportunity to go eighth quickest. Bottas then did even better on the compound, going second as many of the drivers now made the same switch - including Perez, who had finally roused himself just before the halfway point. Heading out for the first time, a big slide and contact with the wall at turn 5 cost him time and left him eighth fastest. Sainz was also cutting it fine but improved to 1:42.751s while Russell and Hamilton both got held up in traffic which allowed Ocon to pop ahead of them both despite the Alpine also scraping the wall during the flying lap.

Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari. 30.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Practice

Leclerc had finally joined the fray, and immediately leapt into second place on medium tyres, 0.678s behind his team mate who still held the top spot after the latest flurry of fliers. Bottas ran wide at turn 15 on his next lap, but Russell had a more successful run this time and improved to second. Hamilton also found more time, but nonetheless had to settle for third behind his team mate with Ocon pushed down to fourth. Further back, Aston Martin's Lance Stroll had done well to move ahead of Alonso for P7.

Having been very off the pace in FP1 as he got used to the upgraded sidepods on the MCL36, Lando Norris had started this session on hard tyres but was now on the chase for pace on the soft tyres - and had an alarming slide on his way to going ninth. After that, most drivers started moving back to mediums for race distance simulations, although Leclerc continued to find more time on the mediums to move within three tenths of Sainz before flatspotting his tyres with a lock-up.

Verstappen also hadn't yet had a chance to set a time on the soft compound as the Red Bull mechanics appeared preoccupied fixing an unspecified glitch on his car, while Perez was also laid up as mechanics worked on his RB18 after his earlier brush with the wall. Elsewhere, Gasly had been going well but was dramatically sidelined by a sudden flash fire on the AT03's roll hoop around the air box intake while on pit lane. It prompted him to jump out with alacrity and leave the mechanics (including one of the Aston Martin team) to apply their fire extinguishers with gusto. Tsunoda's car was also up on the stands in the AlphaTauri garage having completed only 11 laps, making it a frustrating time for the team.

Pierre Gasly (FRA) AlphaTauri AT03 catches fire in the second practice session in the pits. 30.09.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Practice

Leclerc finally switched to the softs for the final ten minutes of the session, but was still not quite able to pip Sainz for the top spot. A final attempt was then stymied by traffic. Meanwhile Hamilton was also on softs but the Mercedes was bouncing down the straights and slid wide through turn 1 while applying maximum opposite luck, meaning he remained in fourth behind Russell followed by Ocon, Bottas, Alonso and Perez.

With less than five minutes remaining on the clock, Verstappen finally broke cover on the soft tyres. A quiet out-lap was followed by a personal best in sector 1 when he started to push, but a scrappy lap meant he ended up in fourth splitting the two Mercedes contenders with no time to cool off and go again before the chequered flag.

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