Leclerc leads, lizards star in first Singapore GP practice

Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari one-two ahead of title leader Max Verstappen in first practice at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Leclerc assumed top spot at the end of the soft-tire runs in the second half of the afternoon session with fastest times in all three sectors. Sainz was late to set his fastest time on a used set of softs, the Spaniard getting to within 0.078s of his teammate.

Verstappen had something of a rough session, complaining of rough downshifts and excess oversteer. The Dutchman shipped most of his 0.126s deficit to Leclerc in the first sector but became progressively quicker as his lap continued and his tires came up to temperature.


Lando Norris was fourth fastest in his heavily upgraded and blacked-out McLaren, lapping within 0.172s of the leader, while Lewis Hamilton ended the session fifth for Mercedes just 0.018s further back.

The otherwise straightforward session was interrupted four times by the sighting of a monitor lizard on the track between Turns 8 and 9.

The lizard appeared to have crept beneath the barriers and onto the circuit several times — though some drivers speculated that it might have been several different lizards — forcing three four flags through that part of the track in the final half-hour of the session.

“Maybe Godzilla had a kid,” Gianpiero Lambiase, Verstappen’s engineer, quipped to his driver, recalling another on-track sighting in 2016 of a much larger monitor.

A fourth appearance ended badly for the monitor, however, which appeared to be struck by a driver as it moved towards the outside of the track shortly before the end of the session.

George Russell was sixth in the order and 0.345s off the pace, pipping Sergio Perez to the place by 0.03s.

Fernando Alonso led for Aston Martin in eighth ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, whose AlphaTauri was sporting its biggest upgrade of the season in hopes of building on the team’s paltry three points this weekend.

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon completed the top 10, with Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon half a second further back, the Thai driver running Williams’s Gulf-inspired blue and orange paint scheme.

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas didn’t use the soft tires on his way to 14th and 1.4s off the leading pace. He finished ahead of Kevin Magnussen, Liam Lawson and Nico Hulkenberg,

Zhou Guanyu also eschewed the softs to finish 18th ahead of Oscar Piastri, whose McLaren wasn’t equipped with all the upgrades enjoyed by teammate Norris, and Logan Sargeant at the back of the back.

Story originally appeared on Racer