Leclerc leads Ferrari 1-2 in Singapore GP first practice


Ferrari has put itself ahead of the field at the outset in Singapore, with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz topping the opening session at Marina Bay.

It was a tight FP1 however with the top ten separated by just 0.716s. Max Verstappen in third had yet to fine-tune his Red Bull RB19, while Lando Norris in fourth offered a promising glimpse into McLaren's latest MCL60 updated package.

While there were no incidents to report, lizard crossings were a feature in FP1 with two appearances and an equal number of yellow flags briefly impacting the running.

Warmer temperatures, lower humidity levels and a slippery track consistent with an opening session run in broad daylight at Marina Bay suggested that FP1 would offer little relevancy overall given the nighttime conditions in which qualifying and the race will take place.

But teams and drivers were nevertheless eager to tack on as much mileage as possible in the session as there was an unusually large number of upgrades to gauge.

Norris, the sole recipient in Singapore of a significant upgrade implemented by McLaren, led the early times until Hamilton, on hards, went quickest.

But Norris swiftly returned to the top with an effort on the mediums that lowered the benchmark to 1m34.776s.

There was a lull in the action as everyone took stock of where they stood after their openings runs. But as the session neared its halfway point, Alpine's Pierre Gasly was the first driver to mount a set of softs, which pushed the Frenchman up to second, 0.204s off Norris.

A brief yellow flag was brandished at Turn 8, courtesy of a member of Singapore's local wildlife – a lizard – crossing the track.

Once the diminutive Godzilla was taken out of harm's way the action resumed, with a soft-shod Norris improving on his previous best. But Leclerc and Verstappen followed suit, the Ferrari driver edging the Dutchman by 0.126s.

With less than 15 minutes left on the clock, another lizard crossing was spotted, this time in the area of Turn 9, which triggered another brief yellow at the corner.

In the meantime, Sainz confirmed the Scuderia's strong early from when he crept up to second to make it a Ferrari one-two.

There were no changes to the pecking order in the final minutes of FP1, with Ferrari therefore securing bragging rights as the fastest team in the session.

But it was an extremely tight spread between the top ten who were covered by just 0.716s.

With Verstappen and Sergio Perez respectively P3 and P7, Red Bull had yet to get its act together but McLaren and Norris will have been satisfied with their initial assessment of their revised MCL60, with Briton setting the fourth fastest time while teammate Oscar Piastri lingered in P19.

Hamilton and Russell clocked in fifth and sixth for Mercedes while Fernando Alonso was once again Aston Martin's fastest contender in P8, with Lance Stroll in P11.

Behind a strong Yuki Tsunoda in P9 at the wheel of AlphaTauri's heavily upgraded AT04, Esteban Ocon rounded off the top ten for Alpine, with Gasly just a few tenths behind in P12.

While conditions were not representative of what everyone will encounter later today and this weekend, Ferrari's performance nevertheless bodes well for the Scuderia.

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter