Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix from pole position after out-qualifying Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by three tenths of a second. The German snatched pole away from the Dutchman who looked strong through-out the first two sessions.
Vettel looked inform smashing the lap record as his championship rival Lewis Hamilton struggled to find the pace in his Mercedes and will start the race sixth after he was over half a second down. It was not the best fastest lap from Vettel; he brushed the wall on the exit of Turn Twenty One.
Verstappen was three tenths behind the Ferrari and will start ahead of his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in fourth.
An emotional Vettel said “The car was amazing. It’s an amazing track when you feel the car was coming together. I knew we had it in us but we had to get there.”
Verstappen said “It was a shame we couldn’t put it on pole. The final lap wasn’t great but it was pretty close. It will be difficult to pass in the race. We’ll see on the first lap.”
It turned into a nightmare night for Mercedes, after looking to be able to run with the front runners through practice the silver arrows where over half a second down on Vettel. Lewis Hamilton will start fifth and team-mate Valtteri Bottas sixth.
Despite their dominance of the sport in recent years, Mercedes have struggled to find performance in Singapore. The gap between Hamilton and Bottas was seven tenths, while the Finn was only two tenths faster than the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg.
The Englishman told Sky Sports “We knew coming here it would be difficult. Every year it’s been difficult for us generally. We knew today would be tough but I didn’t anticipate Ferrari would be as strong as they were.”
Hamilton will need to move forward in the race to try to damage Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of retaking the lead of the championship.
It was a good evening for McLaren, they managed to get both into Q3 for the third time this season with Fernando Alonso eighth and Stoffel Vandoorne ninth.
The British team had targeted this race as a place where they could perform well. While Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz rounded out the top ten. Renault’s Jolyon Palmer failed to get out of Q2 and starts eleventh ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.
The Mexican struggled on his final run in Q2, complaining of a lack grip. Also struggling on his final run in was Palmer; he had a moment at the final corner which he said cost him tenth and a place in Q3.
While Palmer and Perez were not improving, Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat did improve only for thirteenth place. That put him ahead of the second Force India of Esteban Ocon
Also struggling was the Haas of Romain Grosjean who had to settle for fifteenth. In Q1, the Frenchman went straight on at Turn Seven twice and then in Q2, he didn’t post a time on his first run in Q2 and was unable to do better than fifteenth when he made his second attempt.
Another team struggling was Williams, with both Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll failing to make it out of Q1. Massa suffered a puncher after hitting the wall at Turn Twenty One. Both Saubers start at the back with Pascal Wehrlein ahead of Marcus Ericsson.
- Notebook – Singapore Practice
- SINGAPORE GP – Ricciardo tops second practice by half a second over Verstappen as Red Bull look strong
- McLaren switches to Renault power for 2018, as they split with Honda
- SINGAPORE GP – Ricciardo sets the pace in first practice breaking the lap record going a tenth faster than Vettel
- Preview – Singapore Grand Prix