Sin­ga­pore swing puts ti­tle race fo­cus on Hamil­ton

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - SPORT -

Cham­pi­onship leader Lewis Hamil­ton could only clock the third fastest time in Sin­ga­pore as Aus­tralian Daniel Ric­cia­rdo com­pleted a prac­tice dou­ble on an im­pres­sive day for his Red Bull team.

Ric­cia­rdo set the fastest lap in open­ing prac­tice be­fore he went even quicker un­der the lights of the Ma­rina Bay cir­cuit to fin­ish half-a-sec­ond clear of his Red Bull team-mate Max Ver­stap­pen with a record-break­ing time of 1min 40.852sec.

Bri­ton Hamil­ton, who holds a three-point ad­van­tage in the ti­tle race, was next in the or­der and the only other driver within one sec­ond of Ric­cia­rdo and his ram­pant Red Bull.

In con­trast, Hamil­ton’s ti­tle ri­val, Ger­many’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel was just 11th, but his re­sult was skewed as he failed to post a fast lap on the ul­tra­soft tyre, the quick­est of the three com­pounds avail­able.

Vet­tel went quicker than any other driver in the open­ing sec­tor of what should have been his best lap, only to be blocked by the Sauber of Mar­cus Eric­s­son be­fore aban­don­ing his run.

To cap a scrappy evening, the four-time cham­pion then thud­ded the wall on the exit of turn 10, dis­lodg­ing an ad­ver­tis­ing board, but es­caped the in­ci­dent with­out any sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to his car.

But with Vet­tel’s team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen only ninth in the stand­ings, there will be some con­cern in the Fer­rari camp with the slow-speed na­ture of this 3.2-mile street cir­cuit ex­pected to have played to their strengths.

To­mor­row’s race could prove to be the only course of the re­main­ing seven grands prix where Fer­rari will hold the ad­van­tage on Hamil­ton and his Mercedes team.

Hamil­ton, who is in charge of the ti­tle race for the first time this sea­son fol­low­ing his tri­umph at the Ital­ian Grand Prix a fort­night ago, was relieved to have seen Vet­tel be­hind him with Mercedes braced for a dif­fi­cult week­end of driv­ing.

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