Practice report

F1 Singapore GP: Leclerc heads Ferrari 1-2 in FP1 as lizards cause disruption

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz led Max Verstappen in FP1 at Formula 1’s 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, which was interrupted three times by lizards traversing the Marina Bay track.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Lando Norris’s opening two flying laps led the way at the top of the times for much of the opening phase of the session, where the drivers built up to speed on the dusty course running the two harder compounds – oversteer rife in the slower opening turns early on.

The Ferrari drivers and Lewis Hamilton shuffled Norris back as their lengthy opening runs on the hards headed towards their conclusions, before the McLaren driver – fitted with mediums – surged back ahead with a 1m34.776s.

The pack headed back to the pits en masse just after the 20-minute mark of the one-hour session had been reached, after which Alpine’s Pierre Gasly led the switch to the soft tyres approaching the half-way point.

His first lap did not better Norris’s leading time on the mediums and when the majority of the rest headed out on the red-walled tyre, their preparation was interrupted by a yellow flag activation at Turn 8 lasting over two minutes as a lizard had ventured out onto the circuit.

Once it had moved on, George Russell and Sainz finally toppled Norris’s medium effort with their opening softs flier, before the McLaren driver got back in front with a 1m33.522s after he had also taken the softs.

The big track evolution factor early in the Singapore weekend meant drivers were finding time even after a few laps on the softs, with Leclerc going quickest on a 1m33.350s as the session ticked past its two-thirds distance mark.

Verstappen slotted into second a few moments later, 0.126s slower for Red Bull. The Dutchman, who noted the lizard was much smaller than the one he famously encountered he in practice back in 2016, complained that his RB19 was oversteering too much early on as he ran far back in the lower reaches of the top 10 and felt yet again it had “very aggressive downshifts”.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

After many drivers had made a quicker trip back to the pits than during the earlier switch from the harder tyres to softs, Sainz edged ahead of Verstappen to trail Leclerc by under a tenth.

Approaching the final 10 minutes, Leclerc popped in a time that only just failed to beat his leading lap, after which a second lizard appearance slightly further down the track towards the Turn 9 left brought out another yellow flag – although this time it stayed out for a much shorter period.

Several drivers – including leaders Leclerc, Sainz and Verstappen – switched back to the hards for the final phase of FP1, where a lizard Russell claimed was different to the previous interrupting reptiles briefly entered the track also in the Turns 8/9 area.

In the final standings, Norris, running a series of McLaren updates not yet available for Oscar Piastri (19th) in the other MCL60, ended up fourth ahead of Hamilton and Russell.

Sergio Perez was seventh in the second Red Bull, ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, with Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon rounding out the top 10 for AlphaTauri and Alpine respectively.

F1 Singapore GP FP1 results

Driver Info
Cla Driver # Chassis Engine Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Monaco C. Leclerc Ferrari 16 Ferrari Ferrari 25 1'33.350   195.252
2 Spain C. Sainz Ferrari 55 Ferrari Ferrari 24 +0.078 0.078 195.089
3 Netherlands M. Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1 Red Bull Red Bull 22 +0.126 0.048 194.989
4 United Kingdom L. Norris McLaren 4 McLaren Mercedes 24 +0.172 0.046 194.893
5 United Kingdom L. Hamilton Mercedes 44 Mercedes Mercedes 21 +0.190 0.018 194.855
6 United Kingdom G. Russell Mercedes 63 Mercedes Mercedes 25 +0.345 0.155 194.533
7 Mexico S. Perez Red Bull Racing 11 Red Bull Red Bull 22 +0.375 0.030 194.471
8 Spain F. Alonso Aston Martin Racing 14 Aston Martin Mercedes 28 +0.624 0.249 193.955
9 Japan Y. Tsunoda AlphaTauri 22 AlphaTauri Red Bull 25 +0.692 0.068 193.815
10 France E. Ocon Alpine 31 Alpine Renault 24 +0.716 0.024 193.766
11 Canada L. Stroll Aston Martin Racing 18 Aston Martin Mercedes 25 +1.218 0.502 192.737
12 France P. Gasly Alpine 10 Alpine Renault 23 +1.289 0.071 192.592
13 Thailand A. Albon Williams 23 Williams Mercedes 19 +1.307 0.018 192.556
14 Finland V. Bottas Alfa Romeo 77 Alfa Romeo Ferrari 25 +1.452 0.145 192.261
15 Denmark K. Magnussen Haas F1 Team 20 Haas Ferrari 23 +1.537 0.085 192.089
16 New Zealand L. Lawson AlphaTauri 40 AlphaTauri Red Bull 27 +1.544 0.007 192.075
17 Germany N. Hulkenberg Haas F1 Team 27 Haas Ferrari 22 +1.635 0.091 191.891
18 China Z. Guanyu Alfa Romeo 24 Alfa Romeo Ferrari 25 +2.106 0.471 190.944
19 Australia O. Piastri McLaren 81 McLaren Mercedes 22 +2.124 0.018 190.908
20 United States L. Sargeant Williams 2 Williams Mercedes 24 +2.428 0.304 190.302
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