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Formula 1Sport

Ferrari on top in Singapore practice with lizards on track

singapore grand prix
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz arrive ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc set the pace as Ferrari led one-two in first Friday practice for a Singapore Grand Prix that could finally end Formula One champions Red Bull’s record run of 15 wins in a row.

The Monegasque, who started on pole position in last year’s night race, lapped the Marina Bay street circuit with a best time of one minute and 33.350 seconds.

Team mate Carlos Sainz was 0.078 slower in a session with yellow flags to warn drivers of monitor lizards crossing the track.

Red Bull’s runaway championship leader Max Verstappen, chasing an 11th win in a row and already 145 points clear of team mate Sergio Perez after 14 races, was third on the timesheets.

Verstappen has yet to win in Singapore, or start on pole there, and Red Bull had identified Ferrari as the main threat coming into the weekend after their strong performance in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

“I think this track is going to be one of the toughest of the season for us,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports television.

“The characteristics don’t play naturally to the strengths of the car and we’re going to have to be right at the top of our game to keep this winning momentum going.

“You can see Ferrari look quick, McLaren look like they’re there, Mercedes are there as well so it could be very, very tight this weekend.”

The hour-long session, on a shortened track with fewer corners than before, was held earlier in the day than the race and was therefore less representative in terms of temperature and track conditions.

McLaren’s Lando Norris ended the hour-long session fourth fastest with the Mercedes pair of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell fifth and sixth, all on soft tyres.

Perez, last year’s race winner, was seventh fastest.

“There’s a lizard again on the track, bit smaller this time,” said Verstappen, who encountered a much bigger one on the same track in 2016, over the team radio.

“Understood. Maybe Godzilla had a kid,” replied his race engineer.

Russell also came across another later in the session.

“Another lizard but a different one this time,” reported the Briton.

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