Singapore - Daniel Ricciardo set the pace in Friday’s opening practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix, boosting Red Bull’s hopes of challenging for victory at the Marina Bay street circuit Formula One race.
Ricciardo's time of 1m42.489s was a new record and he ended the session 0.109s ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton, chasing his third consecutive win, was fourth behind Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen, 0.415s off Ricciardo's pace.
Hamilton, who took the overall lead from title-rival Vettel after leading Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to a one-two finish at Monza, is expecting a less straightforward weekend in Singapore.
The tight twists of the circuit are expected to play to Ferrari’s strengths, with the Italian outfit dominant at similar layouts in Monaco and Hungary earlier in the year. Red Bull is also hoping the circuit masks the power deficiencies of its Tag Heuer-badged Renault engine.
In the frame
Although the opening session was held in daylight, in contrast to the floodlit conditions the drivers will face during the rest of the weekend, Ricciardo’s pace appear to put Red Bull in the frame for victory.
Sergio Perez was fifth-fastest for Force India, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who agreed a one-year extension to his Mercedes contract in the build up to the weekend.
Kimi Raikkonen was seventh in his Ferrari, ahead of Fernando Alonso, whose McLaren outfit has been in the spotlight this week after the team confirmed on Friday that it would be splitting with power-unit supplier Honda at the end of the 2017 season.
Nico Hulkenberg was ninth for Renault ahead of Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat in 10th. Kyvat's team-mate Carlos Sainz, expected to head off to Renault for 2018 as part of the complex engine saga, sat out the session, handing his car to Formula 2 racer Sean Gelael, who was 18th, 3.3 seconds off Kvyat’s pace.
The 90-minute session was uneventful apart from a few lock-ups from drivers as they got to grips with the track
1 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull - 1:42.489
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari - 1:42.598
3 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull - 1:42.610
4 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes - 1:42.904
5 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India - 1:43.423
6 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes - 1:43.434
7 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari - 1:43.734
8 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren - 1:43.759
9 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Renault - 1:44.101
10 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - 1:44.220
11 Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) McLaren - 1:44.340
12 Jolyon Palmer (Britain) Renault - 1:44.961
13. Esteban Ocon (France) Force India - 1:45.053
14 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams - 1:45.084
15 Romain Grosjean (France) Haas - 1:46.456
16. Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy) Haas - 1:46.782
17 Lance Stroll (Canada) Williams - 1:47.190
18. Sean Gelael (Indonesia) Toro Rosso - 1:47.570
19. Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber - 1:47.699
20 Pascal Wehrlein (Germany) Sauber - 1:47.886Reuters