After two bitter races for Briton Lewis Hamilton, the Equator race seems to recover his supremacy role of leader board front-runner.
The first couple of Free Practices have given Mercedes the fierce conviction that Silver Arrows could be able to deliver another (final) strike to the championship’s ambitions of unpredictability: the long run shows a 0.3 seconds per lap advantage on to the Red Bull powered with the spec-4 Honda engine and something about half a second margin on the Ferrari endangered by reliability alarms after Charles Leclerc gearbox issue.
Lewis Hamilton is showing confidence: and he’s right. The top of the timesheets is covered with his name: a pole should be affair of Max Verstappen, showing an impressive short run/shot lap performance; but never say never when a driver shows such a confidence like Lewis in 2019:
After having led the moring session, Max Verstappen has a solid second practice regariding both race-pace and qualifying simulation. The Ducthman is therefore happy with the job done and now focuses on tomorrow's qualifying.
"It’s always a shock to the system when you first get in the car here in Singapore because it’s very bumpy, it’s a long lap and it’s so hot out there – it’s like a sauna in the car. But it’s been a solid first day, we got through our run plan and continued to improve the car, so I’m really happy with it. I felt much better in the car today than I have for a while, so I hope I can keep that feeling over the weekend. They re-did a few bits of tarmac on the circuit and I managed to get the tyres working well. If you can get into a groove and into a rhythm here, it’s such a beautiful lap, so I’ve really been enjoying it. But nothing’s ever perfect and we definitely have some areas that we can still improve on. We’ve got off to a good start, but the Red Bulls looked very quick and we still have to put it all together tomorrow, which is not going to be easy."
Valtteri Bottas, on the other hand, showed how much is struggling with car’s handling: probably the pressure suffered in Monza when chasing Leclerc has not yet disappeared; having hurt the front left in the slowest point of the circuit, will probably compromise his confidence for the single shot in tomorrow’s qualifying; but this man is the only one remained in the slipstream of ‘Hammertime’:
"It’s been a tricky day. I had a bit of an off moment at the end of FP1, which ended my running a little early. I lost the back end in Turn 19 and at this track with no run-off you pay the price. In the late session, I was lacking pace on every run and on both compounds, so I’m not quite sure everything was right with the car. It just felt like I couldn’t go any quicker, so we’ll need to have a look at that. I felt friction in the steering system, so I struggled to feel the car properly. I think it’s going to be close between three teams tomorrow, so we’ll have to push, especially in Q3."