Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo topped the times in the first practice session of the weekend ahead of the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, just one tenth of a second clear of Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, as the Milton Keynes based squad upped their game at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
The Australian set a time of 1:42.489 to take the top spot on a set of the ultra-soft tyres, as the top four drivers were split by just four tenths of a second.
The first practice session of the weekend was categorised as dry, however there were a number of damp patches throughout the track, thanks to some rain earlier in the day. With the track also still very green, that meant there was little grip available early on, and that was notable as a number of drivers demonstrated with lock-ups and slides.
Red Bull looked impressive as Ricciardo vaulted to the top spot with just thirty minutes of the free practice 1 session remaining, and despite his best efforts, Vettel could not quite find the performance to remove the Australian from first place, finding himself having to settle for second spot on the timing screens.
Max Verstappen was just two hundredths of a second off the German in third place, despite adopting rallying mode at one point in the session, as he hit the kerb at turn two, and brilliantly saved a slide.
Lewis Hamilton was the best of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers in fourth, a further three-tenths back, and with things so close at the top, although perhaps not quite in the order we would expect, it looks like we could definitely be in for a tight battle in both qualifying and the race on Sunday.
Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Sergio Perez put in a strong lap to go fifth, just a few tenths off Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes, whilst Valtteri Bottas could only manage sixth, having reported towards the end of the session that the rear of the car was just undriveable, as well as reporting tyre wear issues.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, who was sporting the halo early on in the free practice 1 session, was seventh, just three hundredths of a second ahead of McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard once again endured early issues with the Honda engine, as he struggled to harvest energy from the power unit, but was still able to finish the free practice 1 session in a respectable eighth place however.
Renault Sport Formula 1 Team driver Nico Hulkenberg was ninth, a further four tenths off the pace of the Spaniard, with Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat completing the top ten.
Stoffel Vandoorne was another driver testing the halo during this first practice session, and the Belgian finished this session in eleventh place, happy in the knowledge that he does not currently have any penalties to serve this weekend.
Jolyon Palmer was twelfth, with perhaps more on his mind than most this weekend, as the Brit is likely to be losing his place in Formula 1 next season, unless he can find an alternative team to drive for, following reports that Carlos Sainz Jr. will move to Renault next year.
Force India driver Esteban Ocon was thirteenth, a surprising one and a half seconds off the pace of team-mate Perez, with Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa in fourteenth.
Romain Grosjean ended the session down in fifteenth place, ahead of stand in Ferrari academy driver Antonio Giovinazzi, who was behind the wheel of the VF17 in place of Kevin Magnussen for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team during the free practice 1 session. The Italian put in an impressive effort to be just three tenths down on his far more experienced team-mate.
Lance Stroll finished the session in seventeenth place, after experiencing engine problems early on in free practice 1. The Canadian reported over team radio that he had engine trouble, before slowing to a coast. A faulty gearbox was the reason behind the stoppage, but luckily for Stroll, he was not using a race gearbox, and therefore will not incur any penalties.
It was not the best start to the weekend for the 18-year-old however, who needs all the running time he can get having never driven at the Marina Bay Street Circuit before.
Indonesian driver Sean Gelael made his Formula 1 debut in the Toro Rosso instead of Carlos Sainz Jr. during free practice 1, and lined up in eighteenth place. Despite having never driven a Formula 1 car before, Gelael still managed to finish ahead of the two Sauber F1 Team drivers, with Marcus Ericsson taking the nineteenth place honours over team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, as the Swiss squad continued to struggle to be anywhere near competitive.
So, it looks pretty tight at the top, with Red Bull coming out on top, ahead of Ferrari and then Mercedes. However, as always, do not expect it to necessarily remain that way, as the first practice session of the weekend is often a mixed up, out of order affair.
2017 Singapore Grand Prix – Free Practice 1 Results
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