Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Singapore, 2023

Leclerc avoids lizards to lead Ferrari one-two in opening practice

Formula 1

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Charles Leclerc led team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr in an opening practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix which was disrupted three times by yellow flags caused by a lizard on the track.

The Ferrari pair were just ahead of Max Verstappen in the opening hour of running for the weekend. Lando Norris took fourth place, ahead of the two Mercedes, in his revised McLaren.

The sun was already beginning to set as cars headed out on track around the revised Marina Bay circuit for the first time. Most drivers opted for hard tyres but Norris took to the track in his upgraded McLaren on medium tyres, setting the early pace with a 1’35.782 – almost eight seconds faster than the quickest time from the opening practice session from 2022.

Naturally the bumpy streets were lacking in natural grip at the start of the weekend and this was evident when both Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez ran wide at the exit of the first corner and missed the apex of turn two. Norris was displaced at the top of the times by Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and the two Ferraris of Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc, all three on the hard tyres, before Norris’s next push lap saw purple times in all three sectors to move back into first with a 1’34.776.

Almost the entire field returned to the pit lane to adjust their set ups and prepare for later runs. After the half hour mark, drivers began to peel out back onto the track on soft tyres, including Norris, Leclerc, Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton. However, all drivers were forced to back out of their push laps when the yellow flags flew at turn eight due to a lizard appearing on the track.

Eventually the creature escaped the confines of the circuit and the track was clear. Leclerc lowered the best time of the session to a 1’33.350 on the softest compound, with team mate Sainz going almost eight hundredths of a second slower in second place.

The yellow flags appeared intermittently over the final 20 minutes of the session as marshals continued to warn drivers of lizards on the circuit but, sadly, the animal was struck by Fernando Alonso in the closing minute of the session. The track invader may have dissuaded teams from attempting many push laps in the later part of the session as by the time the chequered flag waved at the end of the hour, Leclerc’s best time remained fastest of all with Sainz completing a Ferrari one-two.

Verstappen was just over a tenth behind Leclerc in third, half a tenth ahead of Norris, with the two Mercedes of Hamilton and George Russell fifth and sixth. Sergio Perez was seventh ahead of Alonso in the Aston Martin with Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon completing the top ten drivers.

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2023 Singapore Grand Prix first practice result

116Charles LeclercFerrariSF-231’33.35025
255Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariSF-231’33.4280.07824
31Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’33.4760.12622
44Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’33.5220.17224
544Lewis HamiltonMercedesW141’33.5400.19021
663George RussellMercedesW141’33.6950.34525
711Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda RBPTRB191’33.7250.37522
814Fernando AlonsoAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’33.9740.62428
922Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’34.0420.69225
1031Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5231’34.0660.71624
1118Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR231’34.5681.21825
1210Pierre GaslyAlpine-RenaultA5231’34.6391.28923
1323Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW451’34.6571.30719
1477Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’34.8021.45225
1520Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-231’34.8871.53723
1640Liam LawsonAlphaTauri-Honda RBPTAT041’34.8941.54427
1727Nico HulkenbergHaas-FerrariVF-231’34.9851.63522
1824Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC431’35.4562.10625
1981Oscar PiastriMcLaren-MercedesMCL601’35.4742.12422
202Logan SargeantWilliams-MercedesFW451’35.7782.42824

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2023 Singapore Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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15 comments on “Leclerc avoids lizards to lead Ferrari one-two in opening practice”

  1. I see that the lizard’s laptimes are not included in the results. Will that be fixed?

    1. I may have met one of those lizards, at a race in Indy.


  3. As expected, the 2018 pole time got bettered, although I didn’t necessarily expect that in FP1 already.
    I like that Max quickly referred to his 2016 encounter, although I doubt two or three different lizards would be around the same track portion, so the same one must’ve caused all cautions.

    1. @jerejj Why didn’t you expect the 2018 pole time to get bettered? The track has 4 corners less than in 2018.

  4. Gap Norris & Piasti is 2 seconds – guess there is more towards than just the new upgrades explaining that massive gap.

    1. When norris gets an upgrade he destroys piastri, happened in austria too, but it’s not a fair comparison. On top of that, practice times are rarely representative.

  5. Liberty have got a new idea to artificially disrupt races now, lizards..

    1. Ahah, that’s so true!

  6. Nice title there @Will :)

  7. Another quality title! If the whole “[demographic] are secretly lizard people who control the world” thing wasn’t taken so seriously by certain types, I’d love to start an argument as to who’s the F1 agent of the lizard illuminati. My money’s on Jean Todt.

  8. Their cousins, the lounge lizards, will be at Vegas. Hopefully not all over the track.

  9. We really need some lizards photos!

  10. Ahah, that title makes me think the other drivers were slowing down to not hit lizards, and leclerc managed the best time because he made a slalom through them!

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