Spaniard Carlos Sainz set the pace in Friday’s Formula One practice for the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of team mate Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari one-two at the top of the timesheets.
The 28-year-old Sainz lapped the 5km Marina Bay track in one minute 42.587 seconds.
Leclerc was second, 0.208 seconds slower than his team mate, with George Russell third for Mercedes.
“Overall I was feeling more comfortable in second practice,” said Sainz. “But still not quite where I wanted to be. We still have to make some steps going into tomorrow.”
Max Verstappen, who will have a first shot at wrapping up a second successive title this weekend and is on a streak of five consecutive wins, was only fourth.
The Dutchman, who turned 25 on Friday, had gone second quickest in the opening session behind his pace-setting former rival Lewis Hamilton but completed only eight laps around the floodlit track at night.
“For second practice we wanted to try a few things but they just took a bit longer to change first of all and then we wanted to try something else and again that took quite a long time to change again,” said Verstappen, adding his time in the second session was not representative of the true pace of his Red Bull.
“With the changes we made were they good, were they bad, we still need to analyse,” he said.
Hamilton ended the day fifth.
Mercedes fancy their chances of a first win of the season this weekend with the layout of the Marina Bay street track suiting their car.
Hamilton said Mercedes were not “massively off” but suffering from bouncing on the bumpy track.
“It’s literally just you’re bouncing so much that you just have a headache all the time,” said the seven-times champion.
Esteban Ocon was sixth for Alpine ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and Spaniard Fernando Alonso in the other Alpine.
Perez was only ninth for Red Bull, also logging low mileage, with Canadian Lance Stroll rounding out the top 10 for Aston Martin.
Thai racer Alexander Albon, who underwent appendicitis surgery and suffered respiratory failure from post-operative anaesthetic complications earlier this month, was again 16th fastest for Williams.
He completed a total of 45 gruelling laps of the punishing Marina Bay track over both sessions.
Pierre Gasly endured a fiery end to his session with his AlphaTauri spewing flames from its airbox as it was wheeled back into the garage.
The Singapore Grand Prix, which takes place at night against a backdrop of glittering skyscrapers and has established itself as one of the sport’s most popular races, is returning to the calendar for the first time since 2019 this season.
The race was absent during the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.