The streets of Marina Bay lit up with a surprise on the opening day of the Singapore Grand Prix as Ferrari drivers Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc dominated the timesheets. The Scuderia duo has managed to capture the spotlight by swapping top positions in both of Friday's practice sessions.
While Sainz closely trailed Leclerc in the first hour, finishing a mere 0.078s behind, the tables turned in FP2, with Sainz outpacing his teammate by a tight margin of 0.018s. Describing the unusual performance swings associated with the Marina Bay circuit, Sainz noted, “It's a very particular track, and so far, it looks like it’s suiting our car well.
We hit the ground running in FP1 and fine-tuned for FP2”. However, the Spanish driver anticipates significant changes in track conditions, highlighting the importance of the "perfect set-up" as grip levels increase over the weekend.
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Contrastingly, championship frontrunners, Red Bull, faced hurdles. Both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez didn't hesitate to voice their grievances during the practice sessions.
Sainz, however, remains skeptical about ruling out Red Bull. “When you look at the long run pace, they looked like the strongest car. Once they sort out the one-lap pace, they’ll be there fighting for pole,” he pointed out.
As for the upcoming battles, Sainz expressed that other heavyweights like Aston Martin, McLaren, and Mercedes might also join the fray, setting the stage for an exhilarating qualifying session. Leclerc, who clinched the pole in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, echoed Sainz’s cautionary sentiments.
He expressed surprise at Ferrari's strong showing but tempered expectations. “It’s only Friday and we expect the other teams to show more of their true potential tomorrow,” he said, emphasizing the importance of consistency.
Responding to queries about the impending pole battle, Leclerc predicted, "It’s going to be very close for sure." The Monegasque driver remains hopeful but is also prepared for potential shifts in competitiveness.
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