By Andrew Benson Chief F1 writer in Singapore
Second practice is live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra from 13:25 BSTRed Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the times as Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas suffered a heavy crash in first practice at the Singapore Grand Prix.Verstappen was 0.167 seconds quicker than Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, an encouraging performance for the German after a difficult recent run. Vettel’s team-mate Charles Leclerc had gearbox failure and was 19th.Bottas, who was fourth behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton, lost his car on entry to Turn 19, sliding into the barriers.The damage appeared extensive, and it remains to be seen whether Mercedes will be able to repair the car in time for the start of second practice at 13:30 BST.It was a blow for the Finn, who enters the weekend 63 points behind Hamilton in the championship with seven races remaining.Singapore GP first practice results Chequered Flag podcast: Singapore preview Vettel: ‘It’s not great but season not a disaster’ Hamilton was just under 0.7secs off the pace but he and Bottas were using the ‘hard’ tyre when he set his fastest time, while Verstappen and Vettel were on the fastest ‘soft’ tyre.Vettel’s time was a positive sign for both him and Ferrari.The four-time world champion made the latest in a series of mistakes in the last race in Italy, and faced questions about his performance on his arrival in Singapore.
Leclerc was sent back to the pits with a gearbox issueHe admitted it was “not great but not a disaster” but there is a perception that he could do with a good weekend to get his season back on track, especially as he has been in Leclerc’s shadow for most of the past seven races.At the same time, Ferrari came to Singapore expecting to struggle on the tight and twisty Marina Bay circuit, with a car that has lacked grip compared to Mercedes and Red Bull on similar circuits so far this season.However, the first session in Singapore is a notoriously unreliable indicator of form, because it is run in daylight, while qualifying and the race are at night.Conditions may be less different than is typical because haze from fires in neighbouring Indonesia is blocking out the tropical sun, a problem exacerbated by a lack of rainfall that would be typical in Singapore.Behind the top four, Red Bull’s Alexander Albon was fifth, 1.2secs behind team-mate Verstappen on his first experience of Singapore. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, fighting for his future in Formula 1 following Haas’ decision to retain Romain Grosjean, was sixth for Renault, who are replacing him with Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon next year.Hulkenberg headed McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, with the Toro Rosso cars of Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly completing the top 10.
“Sorry guys.” Bottas heads back to the garage after crashing his Mercedes at Turn 19
Conditions in Singapore are tough on both drivers and fans, as this year’s race coincides with the city’s worst air quality in three years