It was a mixed Friday at the Singapore Grand Prix for championship leaders Mercedes. After both ran well in the opening practice session, Lewis Hamilton ended FP2 atop the timesheets while his main championship rival Nico Rosberg finished well down the order.
Despite clocking the fastest time of the weekend so far, Hamilton admitted he was still not comfortable with the handling of his F1W05 and complained of balance issues in both 90-minute sessions.
“I wasn’t [comfortable], but it was work in progress,” he told reporters after Friday practice. “We had some changes after FP1 and, I don’t know if it was the track, but the balance was a lot harder to find.
“This track is so demanding on the tyres and set-up. If you lose track time it’s that confidence that’s very hard to get it back, so it was good to get a clean Friday and hopefully it continues for the next two days,” he added.
The Englishman will hope to build on a trouble-free weekend so far and hope that it translates into a strong qualifying performance. With pole position proving crucial to success or failure around the tortuous street circuit, the 2008 World Champion will be aiming for top spot in Saturday’s three-part session.
“[Qualifying] been very, very important. The right side [of the grid] always gets better stars and it’s impossible to pass. Getting to the front as always is going to be really important, so that’s the target,” he added.
“I feel good this weekend but Nico is very quick, and also the Red Bulls, plus Ferrari looks quite quick.”
Teammate Nico Rosberg was not given a true opportunity to show his Supersoft-tyre pace in FP2. On a flying lap that had him three-tenths of a second quicker than Daniel Ricciardo’s provisional best lap time midway through the session, the German had to abort his effort when the red flags were thrown due to Pastor Maldonado’s accident at Turn 10.
With the session temporarily suspended, Mercedes switched him onto a longer run program for the remaining 45 minutes, which left him a lowly fifteenth on the timesheets. It marked the first time since the Monaco Grand Prix that the Brackley team had failed to secure a 1-2 on the timesheets in either Friday practice session.
“Although I didn’t get the second part of the lap, in the first part the car felt great,” Rosberg said at the end of the day.
“We decided to do more laps on high fuel to learn more for the race and overall it was OK,” he added. “It will be difficult with tyre degradation on the softer tyre so we still need to work on that.”
Images via Sutton Images