SINGAPORE (AP) — Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo crushed his own lap record as he posted the fastest time in the first practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday.
The Australian’s leading time of 1 minute, 42.489 seconds was nearly five seconds better than the mark he set last year, although modifications and wider tires mean cars are faster now.
He might have gone even quicker in better conditions. After heavy rain in the early afternoon, the track was still somewhat damp when first practice got underway on the five-kilometer (three-mile) Marina Bay circuit.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was .1 seconds behind and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen was third best. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton managed only the fourth quickest time — almost half a second behind — while his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was sixth.
There is a second practice in the evening.
Singapore is like Monaco and Hungary in that it is a hard-braking circuit which is tough to overtake on and more suited to Ferrari and Red Bull than Mercedes.
The previous two races in Belgium and Italy were more suited to Mercedes and played to Hamilton’s strengths. He won them to move three points ahead of Vettel.
But no driver has more podium finishes in Singapore than Vettel, whose impressive streak at the night race includes three straight wins from 2011-13 during his run of four straight F1 titles with former team Red Bull.
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