SINGAPORE: Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat shocked Mercedes and left them groping for answers as he topped the timesheets in Singapore Grand Prix practice on Friday, with record-seeking Lewis Hamilton languishing in fourth.
The 21-year-old Russian shrugged off an engine-supply crisis engulfing his team to lead the way with a quickest time of 1 min 46.142 sec at the smog-shrouded Marina Bay circuit.
Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was third quickest behind Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen in an outstanding second practice session for Red Bull which put championship-leading Mercedes firmly on the back foot.
Britain’s Hamilton is zeroing in on his third world title but he has his work cut out if he wants to equal the late Ayrton Senna’s record of eight straight pole positions on Saturday.
“We’re not happy with the performance today,” fumed Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “We haven’t really made the tyre work in the way we should on the one-lap performance or the long run either.
“We’ve seen some spectacular performances on the long runs from Red Bull. We just need to get our heads together and assess what’s happening.”
Kvyat’s performance came as Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said the team will quit F1 if it cannot find a competitive engine after its looming divorce from Renault.
The French engine-maker has vowed to walk away from a partnership which dominated the sport from 2010 to 2013 after relations plummeted during a difficult year.
“The decision is done. If we don’t have a competitive engine we will leave Formula One,” Marko told Sky Sports.