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Daniel Ricciardo quickest in opening Singapore F1 practice

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Daniel Ricciardo made a flying start to Formula 1’s Singapore Grand Prix weekend by topping opening practice for Red Bull at Marina Bay with a new track record.

Red Bull entered the Singapore weekend fancying its chances of putting up a stronger fight to F1 pace-setters Mercedes and Ferrari, with the tight and twisting nature of the street circuit suiting its RB13 chassis well.

Ricciardo showed a good pace throughout FP1, ultimately rising to the top of the timesheets with a best lap of 1:42.489, the fastest time recorded around the Marina Bay Street Circuit’s current configuration.

Ricciardo edged out pre-race favorite Sebastian Vettel at the top of the timesheets, with the Ferrari racer finishing one-tenth of a second off the pace.

Max Verstappen underpinned his Red Bull teammate’s pace by finishing third-fastest, less than two-hundredths of a second back from Vettel, while F1 championship leader Lewis Hamilton wound up fourth for Mercedes.

Sergio Perez made a solid start to the weekend by taking fifth for Force India, finishing ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who was almost a second off the pace during a raggedy session.

Kimi Raikkonen was seventh-fastest for Ferrari ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who reported a loss of engine power, limiting his track time.

Nico Hulkenberg was ninth for Renault, while Daniil Kvyat completed the top 10 for Toro Rosso, leading its charge as FP1 stand-in Sean Gelael finished over three seconds behind in P18.

Ferrari youngster Antonio Giovinazzi also appeared in FP1 for Haas, taking Kevin Magnussen’s seat for the session, and finished just three-tenths slower than regular driver Romain Grosjean.

Practice in Singapore continues with FP2 live from 8:30am ET today on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.

McLaren almost back on schedule with 2018 F1 car after delay

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McLaren is almost back on schedule with its 2018 Formula 1 car development after losing two weeks due to a delay in deciding on its engine supplier, according to racing director Eric Boullier.

McLaren confirmed back in September it would be cutting ties with Honda at the end of the year after three difficult seasons, favoring a switch to Renault power units.

The decision was not taken lightly by McLaren, causing it to lose two weeks in the development of next year’s car, but Boullier confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the team is almost back on-track.

“Maybe we made the decision to change the engine manufacturer two weeks too late for our schedule, but these two weeks have almost been recovered,” Boullier said.

“Any big decisions are always difficult to take. The concept of McLaren winning with Honda was a dream for everybody, yes – it was a beautiful story.

“Today we have huge respect for them and we definitely don’t divorce with fights and screams and finger pointing. We are all very professional – and in the end it was a business decision, which they understand.

“There is a sadness that it didn’t work out like we wanted. McLaren-Honda in terms of brands was a good fit – in terms of results it didn’t work.

“That’s what it is in the end. Now we have to see that we get back to competitiveness – back to the top!”