It’s crazy to think that FP1 for the F1 Singapore Grand Prix was the first time Lewis Hamilton had topped the timesheets in any practice, qualifying or race session this year. 

Mercedes appear to be in the groove at the Marina Bay Street Circuit despite it being traditionally a tricky one in the hybrid era.

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While on the surface, second practice didn’t have the eye-catching times of the first session, Hamilton and George Russell’s qualifying simulations were disrupted by traffic and yellow flags.

Despite Mercedes’ strong start to the weekend, team boss Toto Wolff is remaining cautious, particularly as Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen didn’t manage representative runs on either low or high fuel.

“I think Red Bull was in a bit of a mess. I don’t know what they’ve done setup wise or something else,” Wolff said after FP2. “I think yeah, we can be in the fight.

“Our long run was very competitive versus the Sainz long run, but again we haven’t seen Leclerc or Max.”

Both Hamilton and Russell complained about the “ride” quality of the Mercedes W13 because of the circuit’s notoriously bumpy surface.

Wolff added: “Yeah, both said the ride is really poor. The car is too stiff. You can see it also under braking, Turn 7, that our ride is poor until you actually turn into the corners, and the others are still stiff, but it stops at a certain stage when they go on the brakes.”

Hamilton plays down his chances: “Still a second down”

The lap times are looking promising for Mercedes, but Hamilton is still playing down his chances of taking his first victory since Saudi Arabia last year.

Even though he led the way in FP1 and ended the second session 0.4s off the pace, Hamilton reckons Mercedes are “still a second down”, revealing they are suffering from severe bouncing once again.

“It started off well, wasn’t as great in the second session, pretty much like any other weekend I would say,” Hamilton explained. “The car is where it is, we’re bouncing around like crazy, but it doesn’t feel like we’re massively off this weekend, probably still a second down I would say, but got to keep working on it.

“Not much we can do with the bouncing, just as it is, set-up wise George was able to find a little bit more time, think on my side there’s a bit more time on it with a clear lap, think with the set-up I had I had a lot of locking, we’ll fix it tonight and come back and give it a better try tomorrow.”

On the other side of the Mercedes garage, Russell was third-quickest but conceded they still have “a lot of work to do”.

“It was OK but there’s definitely a lot of work to do,” Russell said. “Very, very bumpy out there, I think everybody’s struggling to a degree - we’ve always known that’s been a bit of a weak point with our car. 

“Tyres are quite sensitive, I think it’s going to be one of those where if we can absolutely nail it I think there will be a huge amount of lap time we can find in qualifying and as we know it’s normally a qualifying race. We’ll stay optimistic and work hard overnight.”

As Wolff alluded to earlier, Russell isn’t sure we’ve seen the best from either Leclerc or Verstappen yet.

“I need to go through and look at the data because I think Charles did his fastest lap on the medium tyre, I don’t know where the Red Bull drivers were," he added. "On paper it looks OK but I’m pretty confident that’s not the full picture.”