Three teams in the hunt for pole position

2016 Singapore Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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Despite setting the quickest time in practice today Mercedes would be forgiven for being a little circumspect about their performance ahead of qualifying in Singapore tomorrow.

Last year they were only three-tenths off the pace on Friday, yet come qualifying they were stunned to find themselves almost one-and-a-half seconds off the pace.

Singapore GP practice in pictures
With the track surface improving rapidly as more rubber goes down, teams face particularly tricky questions when it comes to setting their cars up for tomorrow. Daniel Ricciardo, who was four-tenths off Nico Rosberg’s benchmark pace today, believe Red Bull have much to gain.

“I think where we are is pretty good considering where I feel we can be with the car,” he said after practice. “I think there’s still a lot more we can get out of it. But it’s close, as predicted, three teams all within half a second.”

Rosberg admitted Singapore is the “best track” for Red Bull and Ferrari’s chances of beating them and Lewis Hamilton picked out the Ferraris as a major threat.

Sebastian Vettel didn’t get a good run at a flying lap during the second practice session but the same was true 12 months ago and he went on to win the race. “If we can get everything right I think we have a good shot,” was his assessment of the team#s qualifying chances.

What will give encouragement to Mercedes is that they were able to set the quickest time on each of the three tyre compounds despite Hamilton’s problems which limited the anount of running he could do. However Red Bull’s pace over a longer stint looked good, particularly for Ricciardo on the super-soft tyre, which Mercedes did not do a long run on.

Behind the big three the battle for places in Q3 should involve Force India, Williams, Toro Rosso and McLaren – the latter two looking very closely-matched. “Our expectations were quite high before coming here,” said Fernando Alonso, “although, to be fair, I’d said beforehand that there are circuits coming up that should suit us better than Singapore.”

Renault appear to have a better chance of reaching Q2 in Singapore than at most tracks. “We look a little further up the order than last time out and certainly we want to get a bit more quicker tomorrow,” admitted Kevin Magnussen.

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Longest stint comparison – second practice

This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’46.513 1’44.152 56
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’46.890 1’44.427 54
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’45.823 1’44.532 54
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-TAG Heuer 1’45.872 1’44.557 53
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’46.287 1’45.161 55
6 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’48.359 1’45.182 63
7 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’46.426 1’45.275 34
8 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’46.936 1’45.507 61
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’48.202 1’45.779 51
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’47.683 1’46.029 64
11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’48.214 1’46.063 54
12 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’49.615 1’46.574 50
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas-Ferrari 1’48.109 1’46.727 59
14 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’48.044 1’46.856 57
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’48.453 1’46.960 56
16 Kevin Magnussen Renault 1’50.263 1’47.161 59
17 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1’49.794 1’47.166 61
18 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1’49.595 1’47.531 45
19 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1’48.391 14
20 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’51.479 1’48.487 48
21 Pascal Wehrlein Manor-Mercedes 1’51.112 1’48.505 56
22 Esteban Ocon Manor-Mercedes 1’52.379 1’48.823 62

2016 Singapore Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “Three teams in the hunt for pole position”

  1. I have a feeling that Lewis is going to put it on pole and win the race.
    The more pressure he is under the better he performs.

    1. I have a feeling Mercedes are the final say in whether or Not Lewis can do anything with his car. If they want him to win, he won’t have start issues or reliability issues, if they need Nico to build up some cred or confidence in the fans, Lewis can lose a few races.

      I have a feeling Mercedes are what happens when dishonesty is allowed to flourish.

      1. +100 It also depends on how many Ferraris they want to sell in Singapore . Look for a Ferrari pole. These ‘engine settings’ need to be banned. One setting only should be permissible , start engine, press accelerator pedal to floor, fastest car wins.

      2. @xsavior Please tell me this is sarcasm.

        1. its called the confidence game. And its how you get people to invest in you and yours. Live life, don’t believe what you are told to believe.

      3. ColdFly F1 (@)
        17th September 2016, 9:20

        not again @xsavior.

      4. That moment when comments like these’re more interesting than races where HAM doesn’t fluff his start.

    2. I do too, Lewis is on song with the last couple Mercs. I wonder why that despite the sizeable spread of the field 3 teams are able to run similar pace. As all cars are very different I assume that the common denominator, the tyres, are the performance “ceiling”, all 3 teams might be tyre limited in Singapore, as for previous races these teams shouldn’t not be so close to each other. I think it’s the tight twisty and relentless nature of this street circuit stress the tyres beyond the cars potential.

  2. Even if the red or blue cars out-qualify the silver cars, Mercedes-Benz/AMG team can afford to have one bad race weekend or even leap-frog either team with a better strategy.

    1. Only way that will happen is if they have a fastest car and underperform in quali.

      They might, but Ham is in awesome form. He should be close if not on pole.

      Way more probable is another bad Merc start.

  3. We’ve heard this all season then the Mercs turn up their engine to qually mode in q3 and score a 1-2 by half a second. Yawnnn…

    1. Exactly. Wake us when there’s actual competition – and not just the rare gimped track that MAY whet our appetite.

  4. “Our expectations were quite high before coming here,” said Fernando Alonso, “although, to be fair, I’d said beforehand that there are circuits coming up that should suit us better than Singapore.”

    Yeah right, same thing will be said in Japan or maybe even “gp2, gp2”

    1. Under controlled media conditions, Alonso toes the line and gives confidence building statements. But come race day, and his sarcasm comes to the fore. He is a phenomenal driver, but he is no leader, and is no ambassador.

      I pity those who have to work with him, his race engineers and crew.

  5. Last year was an outlier for Merc. An inexplicable outlier, that we’ ll only see again if the same stars align. I’m not saying they have in the bag, just that last year shouldn’t have been possible

    1. It was a farce last year. ‘Improper settings”

      Merc just had to throw the rest of the teams a bone because their unreasonable domination was a hot topic.

      Praying for 2017

  6. I really expected Mclaren to be quicker here. Their long runs aren’t too shabby.. Lets hope they have a good race.

    Fernando is typically very strong here. A strong points finish may be on the cards.

    1. Yep..perhaps Button willing to crash on a gate?

      1. Erix, I feel that one of the reasons I was so disappointed by Crashgate, was that Alonso indeed is good here, as @jaymenom10 says;he might not have won in 2008, but could have managed a podium honestly that year. But the team were greedy and cheated so now he has a tainted win on his record.

        1. @jaymenon10, sorry, phone makes names hard sometimes

        2. @bosyber Sorry, a podium? He started 15th in a track where it is massively difficult to overtake and was stuck behind a Trulli train for several laps.

          1. maybe a bit optimistic @mashiat, but a(n unforced) SC could have put them right – the car was quick.

    2. I’m disappointed as well. They are over 1.5 seconds down on the leaders and over a second down on Ferrari, a team that they had targeted to match in Singapore. It’s pretty exhausting seeing the failure that Mclaren has turned in to, and I can completely relate to Alonso’s frustrations of driving that garbage truck on race weekends.

  7. Ferrari are way overdue for a victory and this looks like their best shot this year. I hope they don’t blow it again with poor strategy calls.

    1. Indeed, Ferrari have made many weird strategy calls this year, which directly meant their drivers loosing positions before the flag… Fingers crossed for an interesting race with others than the usual suspects on the podium!

  8. “Three teams in the hunt for pole position”

    :o

  9. ColdFly F1 (@)
    17th September 2016, 9:31

    What’s Kvyat doing at the bottom of that graph; 3-5 sec faster than anybody else?
    That difference cannot be only due to ‘charging the batteries’; he must have run them on US compared to the others on a harder compound.

    1. I believe that’s an error. Compared to the practice session pages it looks as if 10 seconds has been taken off each time. Or something like that.

      Still, that’d shake up the race if it was right!

Comments are closed.