Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari 1-2 in first practice for the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, narrowly beating Formula 1 championship leader Max Verstappen and the impressive McLaren of Lando Norris.
– Less than 0.2s covers the top five drivers
– Upgraded McLaren starts strongly
– Lizards on track disrupt session
McLaren has introduced its most significant aerodynamic upgrade since July’s Austrian Grand Prix, hoping to build on what has been a significant performance upswing for the team since then.
Norris spoke ahead of FP1 about McLaren’s hope this update will make the car better in slow-speed corners – a longstanding weakness of previous McLarens – and certainly it made an impressive start at Marina Bay.
The full update is only on Norris’s car for this race and he looked strong from the off in this session, running at or near the top of the timesheet throughout – albeit helped in the first part by running medium compound Pirellis while most others began on hards.
Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes all took turns at the top of the timesheet during this phase.
Norris remained competitive on the soft tyre too, setting a best lap just 0.172 seconds shy of the pace set by Leclerc.
Ferrari has introduced a new front wing flap to its car, for better efficiency, and although the Scuderia has played down its chances of carrying its strong Monza form into Singapore, both Leclerc and Sainz were very quick throughout FP1.
Verstappen wasn’t happy with his Red Bull – featuring minor tweaks to the floor and rear wing endplates here – on the hard tyre early on, complaining of “aggressive” downshifts and “a lot of oversteer in every corner basically”.
He thinks this will be Red Bull’s most difficult weekend since Monaco in terms of trying to maintain its unbeaten streak, but can perhaps take encouragement from being just 0.126s off the pace in FP1.
Mercedes expects to go much better here on a high downforce track, after being comfortably outpaced by Ferrari at Monza. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both made the top six in FP1 in Singapore – Hamilton within 0.2s of Leclerc’s time.
Fernando Alonso is also hoping his relatively draggy Aston Martin will go much better in Singapore, and although he ran slightly out of sequence compared to the other front runners, taking the soft tyre a bit later, he finished FP1 with the eighth quickest time – over six tenths off the pace.
Team-mate Lance Stroll was 11th, albeit almost six tenths slower than Alonso.
Yuki Tsunoda was impressively ninth quickest in the heavily upgraded AlphaTauri, ahead of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine – which also features a major upgrade for this race.
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Running in this session was mostly trouble free, with no red flags or virtual safety car periods – though yellow flags were twice thrown to slow the cars down while lizards attempted to cross the circuit.
Practice 1 Results