Force India’s Sergio Pérez split the Mercedes drivers as he took fifth spot, with Valtteri Bottas holding a low-key sixth, complaining that the “rear end is undriveable”, having finished nearly a second off the pace.
Romain Grosjean set his best time with five minutes remaining, although suffered three off-track moments during the session – taking to the run-off at Turn 1 early on before a spin at Turn 16 shortly after and then going off at Turn 18 late on.
Hamilton, 32, arrived here in Singapore for the first of seven flyaway races, in charge of the title race for the first time this year following his dominant victory at the Italian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.
Singapore is like Monaco and Hungary in that it is a hard-braking circuit which is tough to overtake on and more suited to Ferrari and Red Bull than Mercedes.
Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton set the pace during the early stages of the session using super-soft Pirelli rubber, when there were a few damp patches on the circuit, before they were shuffled back by Verstappen and Ricciardo’s first runs.
The opening 90-minute session however, is not representative of conditions for qualifying tomorrow or indeed Sunday’s race, with both staged at night.
There is a second practice in the evening.
However, an announcement on Fernando Alonso’s future at McLaren is likely to be delayed beyond the weekend, with the final dotting of i’s still to be concluded. Alonso, despite reporting further issues with his Honda engine, was eighth in the order, while his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was 11th.
Behind Hamilton, Sergio Perez put in a strong effort, ending the session P5 for Force India, but the man right behind the Mexican was anything but happy with his performance.