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Singapore GP 2016

SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

Practice 2 Report - Yes is the answer

Nico Rosberg
© The Cahier Archive


By Dan Knutson in Singapore

"Do you think we have a chance against Red Bull and Ferrari this weekend?" Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg asked reporters in the Singapore paddock the day before practice for the race began. If the results from Free Practice 2 are any indication, the answer is yes because Rosberg was quickest, beating out Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Max Verstappen.

The ambient temperature at the start of the 90-minute session was 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Centigrade.)

The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Force India Mercedes - Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault - Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes - Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.

Verstappen had been quickest in FP1 after setting a time of 1:45.823 on the ultra soft Pirelli compound.

Wehrlein and Gutierrez got things going in FP2.

Vettel, using the soft compound tires, clocked the first fast time of the session - a 1:47.475. Moments later Raikkonen, on the super softs, beat that with a 1:46.167.

Ten minutes into the session Hamilton turned a 1:45.275 on the super softs. Ricciardo, on the same compound, moved into second place after turning a 1:45.620. Verstappen's run on those tires several minutes later yielded a 1:46.028, putting him third on the timing screens.

Meanwhile, Ricciardo clipped the barrier at Turn 11, spun, and got going again.

With the initial flurry of runs over, the order after 20 minutes was: Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Perez, Hulkenberg, Kvyat, Sainz, Rosberg and Vettel.

"Traction and braking are the key aspects here, with 23 corners. So drivers must be careful not to overheat tires: the ultra soft especially," Pirelli tweeted.

Ocon was not being careful enough and he scraped the walls twice on the same lap.

"I did hit the wall two times," he radioed. "Copy that mate, we did see it on TV," said his engineer.

One third of the way through the session, Vettel donned a set of the ultras and went around in 1:45.266 - a full 0.009 of a second faster than Hamilton's time on the super softs.

Then Raikkonen jumped in front with a lap of 1:44.427, only to have Rosberg beat that with a 1:44.152. Both were on the ultra soft tires.

Verstappen's ultra soft run put him third with a 1:44.532. Hamilton had trouble getting a clean run on his ultras and was down in sixth place.

Now, after 40 minutes, the order was: Rosberg, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Perez, Kvyat and Gutierrez.

A few minutes later Grosjean headed slowly for the pits after spinning in the final corner and ripping off most of his rear wing.

Just past the midpoint of FP3 Ricciardo moved up to fourth with a time of 1:44.557 on the ultra soft tires.

Many drivers now started during long runs to check tire wear.

"The pattern of track evolution at night is somewhat different to what we see during the day. So this is a focus of data analysis in #FP2," Pirelli tweeted.

The order with 30 minutes remaining was: Rosberg, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Ricciardo, Vettel, Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Sainz, Alonso and Kvyat. The track was busy with all but one or two drivers pounding around the streets. Most were on the ultra soft Pirellis.

"Daniel had really low deg on the super-soft tire, his lap times were consistently in the 1m50s, but he did look after it," Red Bull radioed to Verstappen.

Verstappen complained about the traffic, only to have his engineer respond: "It's a street circuit, mate, we have to deal with it."

Hamilton was in the garage and out of action for the rest of FP3 as the team traced a small hydraulic problem.

The top 10 remained unchanged for the rest of the session. How much will that order change in qualifying? And will Mercedes still be in front of Ferrari and Red Bull?