Red Bull sets pace in opening Singapore GP practice

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain signs an autograph for a fan as he arrives at the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix on the Marina Bay City Circuit Singapore, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Yong Teck Lim)
Yong Teck Lim/AP

SINGAPORE (AP) Red Bull driver Max Verstappen set the fastest time ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the opening practice for the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday, heightening expectations they will challenge the dominant Mercedes this weekend.

Verstappen was five-hundredths of a second faster than Ricciardo, and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel third fastest at the Marina Bay circuit.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was fourth, followed by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. Rosberg's session ended prematurely when he crashed nose first into a safety barrier, and drove back to the pits minus his front wing.

Mercedes times were set on the hardest of the three tire compounds, compared to Red Bull on the softest, so Mercedes times should improve sharply.