2014 Singapore Grand Prix: Friday Analysis

Mercedes’ “Messy” Day

When you are the stand-out performers at almost each and every round, a high position on the timesheet can often mask a difficult day. While Lewis Hamilton led the way in FP2, the Brit suffered from set-up issues throughout the day and these adversely effected his long runs. However, Lewis certainly has an advantage over his teammate heading into the all-important Singapore Saturday, with Nico suffering a wing mirror failure during the first fifteen minutes at the start of FP1 and more importantly, failing to post a representative qualifying simulation time in the second session, after he was compromised by Pastor Maldonado’s accident at turn ten. Work to do for both the championship leader and, to a lesser extent, his chief rival.

Vettel Undeterred By Technical Issues

If joker’s were available in Formula 1, (not that I am trying to give the FIA any more madcap ideas), Sebastian Vettel would certainly deploy his in Singapore. The German clearly enjoys challenging the street circuit and was certainly pushing the envelope on the exit of corners early on in the day, running closer and closer to the walls until finally finding the limit at Turn 21, making an early interaction with the unmistakably orange barriers, synonymous with sector three. However, Vettel escaped unscathed.
Despite this near miss, he was much less fortunate as the chequered flag fell. Sebastian detected an engine failure and immediately stopped the car, even before Rocky had chance to sound the alarm. Obviously, Vettel is concious of exceeding the engine limit, with a grid penalty looming large. However, the Red Bull mechanics proved just how integral they are to the team’s success, as they managed to repair the car in time for a brief cameo appearance at the end of the session. Five valuable laps recorded in FP2, including some vital qualifying simulation.
“It was surely not ideal just to get a run on the options but thanks to the mechanics we got a couple of minutes at the end, so better than nothing,” Vettel stated. Despite all of today’s issues, the quadruple World Champion seems very positive indeed. Daniel Ricciardo’s mileage will have also been intriguing to watch from Vettel’s perspective, as the Aussie posted times which suggest that the predicted fight between Mercedes and Red Bull is still on the cards this weekend. Mercedes may have had a messy day, but Red Bull’s was hardly a stroll in the park.

Williams Wild

While it was widely accepted that Williams would face a damage limitation weekend in Singapore, today’s running suggests that even a minor points haul this weekend will be welcomed with open arms. It was a difficult day for both Massa and Bottas as rear-end instability led to overheating rear tyres, which compounded the oversteer and caused what can be best described as a negative feedback loop and one which will destroy a race. Fortunately, when appearing on The F1 Show, Felipe Massa suggested that the team understood the cause of the issue and will look to solve it during FP3 tomorrow morning.

Oh Dear, Its Happened Again

Another Friday and another crash for Pastor Maldonado in the Lotus, as the Venezuelan found the wall on the outside of Turn Ten, in an accident which occurred at a time when Pastor was not even pushing for ultimate pace. He citied a loss of grip as the cause of the clumsy rendezvous with the very same barrier which shook hands with Kimi Raikkonen in 2008. “In that one I wasn’t pushing that hard because the first lap wasn’t the best one, the performance was not the same on the second lap time on the option tyre,” Pastor acknowledged. “On the prime you are getting better and better and on the option there is only one lap. For one lap the new tyres are absorbing a lot of the problems of the car so the second lap is back to these kinds of problems.”

FP1 Timesheet

1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.056
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.122
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +0.149
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +0.818
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +1.066
6 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +1.483
7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari +1.727
8 Jenson Button McLaren +1.866
9 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1.934
10 Sergio Perez Force India +2.075
11 Kevin Magnussen McLaren +2.161
12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +2.548
13 Felipe Massa Williams +2.897
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +3.069
15 Valtteri Bottas Williams +3.090
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +3.115
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber +3.181
18 Romain Grosjean Lotus +3.850
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia +5.057
20 Marcus Ericsson Caterham +5.419
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham +5.551
22 Max Chilton Marussia +6.114 

FP2 Timesheet

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:47.490
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +0.133
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull +0.300
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.541
5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +0.551
6 Kevin Magnussen McLaren +0.868
7 Jenson Button McLaren +0.945
8 Sergio Perez Force India +1.163
9 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +1.261
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso +1.280
11 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +1.310
12 Romain Grosjean Lotus +1.572
13 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +1.585
14 Pastor Maldonado Lotus +1.649
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber +1.680
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber +1.800
17 Felipe Massa Williams +1.871
18 Valtteri Bottas Williams +2.481
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia +3.122
20 Max Chilton Marussia +4.068
21 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham +4.585
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham +5.446

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