Max Verstappen led Red Bull to the head of the timesheets in opening practice for the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday as Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc both hit trouble at Marina Bay.

Entering the weekend as one of the tentative favourites for victory, Verstappen laid down an early marker in the Red Bull RB15 by edging out Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for top spot in the 90-minute session run entirely in daylight.

A fastest lap time of 1m40.259s gave Verstappen P1 by 0.157 seconds in a session interrupted that saw two of this year’s four race winners suffer setbacks.

Ferrari driver Leclerc was the first to come unstuck one hour into the session when a gearbox issue forced him to slow in the final sector. His car ultimately came to a halt at the entry to the pit lane, leaving him in need of recovery by the Ferrari mechanics.

While they were able to wheel his car back to the garage, Leclerc did not return to the circuit in the remainder of the session as the issue was investigated.

Bottas had a more visible setback minutes later when he crashed into the wall at Turn 19, losing grip and going straight on at the right-hand corner. The shunt brought out a red flag and left his Mercedes car in need of significant repairs ahead of second practice later today.

Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes’ charge in third place, six-tenths back from Verstappen, while Bottas still set a lap time good enough for P4 overall.

Red Bull’s Alexander Albon took fifth overall ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, while the McLaren duo of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris followed in seventh and eighth place respectively. Toro Rosso drivers Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10 positions.

 

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