Carlos Sainz believes there could be as many as five teams in the fight for pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix after topping the times in Friday practice.
Max Verstappen described Red Bull’s form as “way worse” than expected as he finished eighth fastest in FP2, one position behind teammate Sergio Perez. Sainz headed a Ferrari one-two in the second session after Charles Leclerc led the Spaniard in FP1, but Sainz — who was on pole in Monza last time out — feels Red Bull will be back in the frame over one lap on Saturday alongside multiple teams.
“No, I don’t believe (Red Bull is in trouble),” Sainz said. “When you look at their long-run pace, already they look the strongest car, so I think once they sort out the one-lap pace they’ll be there fighting for pole. Hopefully we can be in that fight but it also looks like Aston, McLaren, Mercedes should also be in that fight. So I think we are on for an exciting day tomorrow and hopefully we can get the best out of it.”
While Sainz was surprised that Ferrari swept all of Friday, he says it was in part due to the team getting its setup right from early on in the weekend.
“I think you always need to arrive in Singapore very open-minded,” he said. “We’ve seen in the past very weird performance swings at this track and so far it looks like it’s suiting our car well — it’s going well with the way that we hit the ground running in FP1 and we could just fine-tune the setup a bit for FP2 and be a bit quicker. So it looks good but I do believe the track is going to change a lot for tomorrow — it’s going to ramp up the grip a lot and it’s all about who finds the perfect setup for tomorrow.”
McLaren had a significant update on Lando Norris’ car on Friday and Sainz says the pecking order might also have been clouded by the development work some teams were doing during practice.
“It definitely looks like there are people out here who have brought a lot of upgrades, so we might see that tomorrow — that they fine-tune them and they understand them better and they find a lot of performance. For us we haven’t really brought anything; the front wing is just a small tweak to what we had, and we’re focusing on understanding our car around here.
“We tested a couple of things on setup that I wanted to try around this type of track and it looks like it worked and it’s going in the right direction, so let’s see if we can put in another good lap tomorrow and be on the front row.”