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Sainz continues to set Singapore pace


Ahead of today's sole practice session the air temperature is 31 degrees C, while the track temperature is 39 degrees. Humidity is 68%.

Overnight rain has meant that much of the rubber laid down yesterday has been washed away, with further rain expected over the weekend. Indeed, there is a 20% chance of a downpour over the next hour.

Ferrari set the pace yesterday, however it was the lack of pace from the Red Bull pair that filled the headlines, Verstappen and Perez both complaining of poor balance and no rear tyre grip.

Mercedes came away relatively happy but not as happy as McLaren where Norris was very much in the mix. The Woking team has a raft of upgrades this weekend, most of which are only available to the Briton, with Piastri set to get his hands on them next weekend.

Albon missed pretty much all of FP2 with an ERS issue, while Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri both appeared to improve following the introduction of their latest upgrades.

As ever, Alonso was up there and looking promising for a decent points haul on Sunday.

Nonetheless, all eyes will be on Ferrari today to see if Sainz and Leclerc can maintain their pace - and whether it was genuine - and on Red Bull to see whether Verstappen and Perez were sandbagging.

The lights go green and the Alfa pair lead the way, both opting for the softs.

The rest of the field watch on as Bottas and Zhou begin their first flying laps, Perez eventually deciding to join them. The Mexican is followed by Sainz and Stroll.

While the Alfas are on softs the drivers heading out behind them are on mediums.

Bottas posts a 35.082 and his teammate a 36.495 as Verstappen heads out along with Leclerc.

Perez splits the Alfas with a 35.233 while Stroll goes top with a 35.077 only to be demoted by Sainz (35.015).

Quickest in all three sectors, Verstappen stops the clock at 34.402.

A 35.418 sees Leclerc go sixth.

"The rears are still on the edge," reports Perez. "Feels a bit too pointy."

Quickest in S2, Bottas improves to second with a 34.985.

Verstappen takes to the escape road at Turn 14 on his cool down lap as Stroll goes second (34.574).

Sainz goes quickest with a 33.778 as Hamilton goes third (34.412) on the softs - an early switch to the red-banded rubber for the Mercedes driver.

Russell, also on softs, goes second with a 34.094 as Norris goes third (34.261).

Leclerc improves to third (34.095), but is demoted when Verstappen posts a 33.660.

Yesterday it was downshifts, today Verstappen is complaining about upshifts.

Alonso's first flying lap sees the Spaniard go 13th with a 35.544 on the mediums.

A 33.663 sees Leclerc improve to second, just 0.003s off Verstappen's pace.

Albon's first flying lap sees the Williams driver go 10th (34.598).

On mediums, Magnussen goes sixth with a 34.118... now, where did that come from?

Russell (softs) posts a 33.440 to go top but is demoted when Sainz (mediums) responds with a 33.195.

After 21 minutes the only driver yet to post a time is Sargeant, but he is currently on track.

The American goes 15th with a 34.829.

Alonso improves to seventh with a 34.065, 0.870s off the pace.

Ocon goers ninth with a 34.131, thereby demoting Albon to tenth.

Lawson spins at Turn 2 after running over the kerb, momentarily bringing out the yellows.

Hamilton improves to fifth (33.749) on the softs. He subsequently goes second with a 33.105.

"Feels strange, I don't have grip under braking," reports Hulkenberg.

"The front is feeling quite light under braking," says Perez despite his team making adjustments.

As Verstappen runs wide in Turn 1, Mercedes are 1-2, albeit on the softs.

Because conditions for this session, like FP1, are so unrepresentative the majority of drivers will leave it late before making the switch to softs.

That said, with 20 minutes remaining Norris bolts on the red-banded rubber, as does Ocon and the Williams pair.

Russell, on fresh softs, goes quickest in S1. He maintains the pace in S2, finally crossing the line at 32.364.

Meanwhile, Bottas gets the black and white flag for crossing the line at the pit entry.

As Albon goes fourth (33.370), Norris goes quickest in S1.

Ocon goes second with a 32.979, only to be demoted when Norris goes top with a 32.303.

Alonso goes fourth (33.051), as Hamilton goes quickest in S2. At the line the Briton posts a 32.535 to go third.

Albon gets up close and personal with the barriers even managing to peel off one of the advertising banners.

Piastri goes fourth, Stroll seventh and Lawson tenth.

Verstappen can only manage a PB in S1, with another in the second sector. At the line he posts a 32.636 to go fourth, 0.333s down on Norris. That said, he did encounter some traffic.

Albon goes off at Turn 14 bringing out the yellows, luckily the all-clear is given in time to allow Sainz and Leclerc to continue their laps.

Sainz goes top with a 32.065 while teammate Leclerc aborts his lap.

Perez goes seventh with a 32.962, 0.897s off the pace.

"I'm sorry man, I cannot drive with these upshifts," complains Verstappen.

A big wobble in Turn 15 for Leclerc who subsequently goes fourth with a 32.381.

Hulkenberg goes eighth (32.961), as Alonso aborts his lap in the second sector due to traffic.

"Box this lap," Verstappen is told, "we'd like to test something on the upshifts."

Looking to improve Sainz aborts his next flying lap after making a mistake in the second sector.

Leclerc goes quickest in S1, but is clearly pushing too hard and after repeating his teammate's mistake in running wide he aborts the lap.

PBs in all three sectors see Verstappen improves to fourth, 0.313s off the pace.

Asked if the upshifts have improved, he replies: "Maybe a little bit smoother, but miles off still. It's just giving me wheelspin. It's not only upshifts, also downshifts."

The session ends. Sainz is quickest, ahead of Russell, Norris, Verstappen, Leclerc, Hamilton, Piastri, Perez, Hulkenberg and Tsunoda.

Magnussen is eleventh, ahead of Ocon, Alonso, Stroll, Gasly, Lawson, Albon, Bottas, Zhou and Sargeant

Ferrari continues to look strong, as does Mercedes and Norris, while there remains that question mark over Red Bull.

Qualifying should be fun.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Marina Bay here.


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