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Red Bull show Max power, Rosberg crashes

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest times and Nico Rosberg crashed out of an eventful Singapore Grand Prix first practice session Friday.

As day turned into night over the tropical city state, teenager Verstappen lapped the 5.065 kilometre (3.14 miles) Marina Bay circuit in 1 min 45.823 sec, 0.049 sec ahead of his Australian team-mate.

Sebastian Vettel, the winner here last year, was third quickest in his Ferrari with championship leader Hamilton only managing fourth, 0.603 seconds slower than Verstappen.

Rosberg, who has closed the gap to two points behind his teammate at the top of the world championship, was trying to improve on his best time of 1:46.513 when he locked his brakes on turn 18.

Rosberg had to take his hands off the wheel as his Mercedes, with brake discs glowing red hot under the floodlights, careered straight into the barriers.

He managed to extricate his car, minus its front wing, and limp back to the pits with his session ending 15 minutes prematurely.

Mercedes failed to make the podium at Singapore a year ago as Ferrari and Red Bull dominated with their extra mechanical grip negating the Silver Arrows’ power advantage.

Hamilton retired in 2015 after qualifying only fifth and Friday he was complaining over team radio of fierce heat in his car’s footwell.

“Very hot down by my right ankle,” Hamilton reported. “Very, very hot.”

Rosberg wasn’t the only driver to dice with danger on the twisty street circuit as the track temperature fell after sunset.

Vettel took a chunk out of the wall at turn 21 with the right rear wheel of his Ferrari but was able to report only “cosmetic damage” back to his pit team.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Sauber’s Felipe Nasr were among several drivers who later made the hole in the yellow paint bigger at the same spot.

Jenson Button’s practice almost ended before it started on his first out-lap when a software gremlin caused his engine to cut out.

His McLaren was close enough to the pit entrance, however, to be pushed to the garage by marshals and he later emerged to set the 16th fastest time of 1:49.615.

Romain Grosjean was the only driver who failed to get on track in the session.

A leak in the engine of his Haas instead leaving the Frenchman to while away the 90 minutes of the session playing cards in the team hospitality unit with one of his crew. -AFP

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