190311 Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas Image Credit: Reuters

Singapore: Red Bull’s Max Verstappen lapped fastest in opening practice for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix on Friday while Valtteri Bottas smashed his Mercedes into the wall.

The 21-year-old Dutchman set a benchmark time of one minute, 40.259 seconds over the first of the two 90-minute sessions.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, a four-times winner at the twisting Marina Bay track but without a Grand Prix victory in more than a year, was 0.167 seconds adrift.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was third for Mercedes, 0.666 seconds off the pace but on a harder tyre compound. The Briton, who leads teammate Bottas by 63 points with seven races to go, clocked the fastest time in the second session, ahead of Verstappen and Vettel.

Bottas was fourth in the earlier stint, but the Finn crashed out with a little under half-an-hour left on the clock when his Mercedes snapped out of control on the exit of turn 19 and ploughed into the barriers.

The accident brought the session to a brief halt as marshals worked to clear away his car.

The Finn recovered to set the fourth fastest time in the second session.