Charles Leclerc leads Ferrari charge in Singapore GP Practice amidst Red Bull's reign
In the first practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc demonstrated impressive speed, signalling a potential challenge to Red Bull's season-long supremacy. Leclerc's performance, alongside teammate Carlos Sainz, has ignited hopes of breaking Red Bull's winning streak.
In the first practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc emerged as the fastest driver, alongside his teammate Carlos Sainz, as they aim to break Red Bull's dominant winning streak this season. Leclerc posted a best lap time of 1 minute and 33.350 seconds, just 0.078 seconds ahead of Sainz, while championship leader Max Verstappen secured the third-fastest time, trailing the Monegasque driver by 0.126 seconds. The practice session had its share of interruptions, including unexpected appearances of large monitor lizards on the tropical city's circuit.
Red Bull has been utterly dominant in the 2023 season, winning all 14 Grand Prix races, with Max Verstappen claiming victory 12 times, including the last 10 consecutive races. Sergio Perez won the remaining two races. However, Verstappen, eager to secure his first victory in Singapore, experienced oversteer issues early in the session, which he expressed via team radio.
Perez faced challenges of his own and ended up in seventh place after voicing concerns about his seat position being too low, making it difficult for him to identify the apex of corners on the intricate street layout.
Singapore is anticipated to pose the most significant challenge to Red Bull's quest for a clean sweep of all 22 races this season. The Marina Bay circuit's uneven, high downforce layout, coupled with the constant threat of tropical rainstorms during qualifying and the race, could introduce unpredictable elements to the competition.
Despite these challenges, the primary disruptions during Friday's practice sessions were caused by yellow flags, raised on three separate occasions due to the presence of large lizards on the track. Drivers, including Verstappen and Yuki Tsunoda, had to navigate around these unexpected obstacles.
Lando Norris made good use of an upgraded package on his McLaren, securing the fourth-fastest time, just 0.172 seconds behind Leclerc. Many observers anticipate Mercedes closing the gap on Red Bull in Singapore, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell securing the fifth and sixth positions, respectively.
Notably, lap times in the first practice session were over seven seconds faster compared to the previous year, owing to the removal of four 90-degree corners near the end of the circuit due to construction work.