Red Bull ace Max Verstappen set the fastest time ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the first practice for the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday, heightening expectations they will challenge the dominant Mercedes this weekend.
A best lap of 1:45.823 on the ultra-soft tire saw Verstappen finish 0.049 seconds clear of teammate Daniel Ricciardo, sending out a warning shot to the team’s rivals.
Four-time Singapore winner Vettel was third-fastest for Ferrari, four-tenths of a second off Verstappen’s time, while championship leader Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fourth place.
Nico Rosberg the only speedy finish in fifth place after a crash but Mercedes have said that the car will be repaired in time for Friday’s second practice session.
Romain Grosjean failed to post a single lap time, a power unit issue resigning the Frenchman to a game of cards in the Haas hospitality unit.
Kimi Raikkonen was sixth in the Ferrari while Felipe Massa was P9 for Williams, while Esteban Gutierrez put Haas’ updates to good use by rounding out the top 10.
McLaren pair Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button finished in 11th and 16th place respectively.
Hamilton, Alonso and Force India’s Hulkenberg did some running early on with the future ‘halo’ cockpit protection system.