Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc pushed their Ferraris to two-one in the second practice of the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday as runaway championship leaders Max Verstappen and Red Bull are struggling with Formula 1’s return to Asia. The Dutchman celebrated his 25th birthday at a Red Bull reception on Friday before his first training session, before spending most of the second quarter working on his ex with mechanics in the garage. Suspension settings. Verstappen could retain his Formula 1 world title by winning a race on Sunday, if other results go his way, and he did appear in the one-hour qualifying mock lap.

His time of 1:42.926 just enough to finish fourth, 0.339 seconds behind Sainz, who was 1:42.587 at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

“I think it got off to a good start, the car worked well in FP1, and then in FP2 we wanted to try something,” Verstappen said.

“They just took longer to change, first, then we wanted to try something else, and it took a long time to change, so we really couldn’t run much.

“That’s why it doesn’t really represent what we showed in FP2,” Verstappen added. “But there is room for improvement.”

Leclerc’s time of 1:42.795 0.208 seconds behind his teammate, with George Russell’s third in 1:42.911.

Earlier, Lewis Hamilton had the fastest time in the opening practice session of the first Singapore race weekend since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hamilton ‘headache’

It Hamilton’s first time at the top of the timetable this season, giving him hope of a maiden Grand Prix win in 2022 and maintaining the momentum he has won every season since his debut in 2007.

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But the seven-time world champion later struggled with bumps and kerb stability, which led him to miss the final corner of the final lap, putting him 0.595 seconds behind Sainz in fifth.

“It’s off to a good start,” Hamilton told reporters. “The second class wasn’t as good, but it about the same as the other weekends.

“The car stayed the same, bouncing around like crazy, but it felt like we didn’t take a lot of vacation this weekend.”

Due to the nature of the street circuit, the Singapore event is dubbed by drivers as the most demanding event on the calendar, with 23 corners and around 91 gear changes per lap.

Add to that the heat and humidity in the tropical city-state, and even Hamilton, who won four times in Singapore, is suffering.

“After that session, I did feel a little dehydrated and very hot,” he said.

“But the biggest problem is actually you’re bouncing so much that you keep getting a headache, and it’s a very bumpy track.”

Sixth fastest Esteban Ocon’s Alpine, ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas.

Spain’s Fernando Alonso will start a record 350th Grand Prix on Sunday, one more than Kimi Raikkonen’s previous all-time record as he ranks in the Alps eighth.

Red Bull looked more competitive early on, but in the night race, both cars had setup issues under the lights, with Sergio Perez ninth, 1.3 seconds behind Sainz.

Verstappen has an almost undisputed lead in the title race but must win Sunday’s game and see his closest rivals falter in five games or the fight will move to Japan next week.

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Lap speed in qualifying is crucial in Singapore, where pole position is a huge advantage on tight circuits with little chance of overtaking.

Alex Albon is encouraged by the fact that he has completed two sessions in his Williams team less than three weeks after appendicitis and complications from surgery.

The British-born Thai driver finished 16th in both races, a serious test of his fitness in the heat and humidity of Singapore.

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There a farce in the AlphaTauri garage, when Pierre Gasly had to jump from his car with flames above his head. They were quickly put out by pit crews and within minutes the Frenchman was back on track unscathed.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and automatically generated from the syndicated feed.)

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