What we learned from Friday at the Singapore Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes had been expected to resume their position of dominance over F1 at the Singapore Grand Prix and it certainly seems as through the champion-elect will be a major player in Marina Bay this week.
Hamilton was the quickest man on track by the end of Friday practice in Singapore, with Max Verstappen tucked in just behind him on one-lap pace – the pair were first and second on Saturday and Sunday here a year ago.
Both drivers' team-mates wee well off the pace, however, offering opportunities to others on the grid and giving Ferrari hope of keeping up their impressive recent form, despite the circuit not favouring their car.
Verstappen might have topped FP1, but it was still Hamilton that looked the most impressive, running third quickest on hard tyres as Vettel and the Dutchman went quicker thanks to use of the soft compound.
It is all about FP2 in Singapore, however, as it is the only representative session and Hamilton came alive once the sun had gone down.
His quali sim lap of one minute 38.773 seconds is in the same ballpark that he managed in this session 12 months ago, before torching the circuit in 1:36.015 to take one of his very best pole positions.
Ominously for everyone involved, Hamilton also held the advantage over long-run pace, although tyre life was a concern for the Brit on the soft compound and could push Mercedes into opting for mediums in Q2.
Verstappen looks to be the only driver currently capable of holding a candle to Hamilton and was inside two tenths of a second on one-lap pace.
Bottas, Albon and Leclerc struggle
The drivers from fourth to sixth on the final timesheet all experienced issues across Friday and all three were more than a second adrift of Hamilton.
Charles Leclerc's FP1 was ended by a gearbox issue and he also ran into traffic throughout FP2, further hampering his efforts.
Alexander Albon swiped the front wing off his Red Bull at Turn 10 in FP2, having come into the weekend expecting to take some time to get up to speed.
However, Valtteri Bottas may be the most concerned, running 1.1 seconds off his team-mate and walloping the barriers at Turn 18 during first practice.
The Finn was notably tentative during FP2 on both shot and long runs, perhaps having been warned that spare parts may be at a premium this weekend, with Singapore calling for very specific high-downforce options.
Don't make him angry…
Nico Hulkenberg has a point to prove this weekend after losing his Renault seat for 2020 and seeing Haas stick with the error-prone Romain Grosjean ahead of him.
The German certainly channelled any frustrations in the right way, coming home sixth and eighth in the respective sessions and largely outperforming team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Hulkenberg was half a second quicker across one lying lap in FP2 and has made Q3 in each of the last three years in this event.
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