Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG F1 team put together a mega lap on the streets of Marina Bay circuit to claim an unexpected pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix. At the circuit where Scuderia Ferrari were expected to be faster than Mercedes, Sebastian Vettel finished third, while Red Bull Racing‘s Max Verstappen claimed an impressive second position ahead of him. Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen rounded off the top-five positions.
Lewis Hamilton Takes a Surprise Pole
Q1: Ricciardo tops while Magnussen drops out
The first qualifying session started beneath the night sky with air temperatures at 29 degrees C and track temperatures at 33 degrees C. Most cars started on the pink-striped hypersoft tyres, except for the Mercedes who were on ultrasofts. Raikkonen set the initial benchmark time of 1:38.534s in the first runs. However, Daniel Ricciardo went faster with a time of 1:38.153s, which was enough to be fastest for Q1.
Both Bottas and Hamilton struggled with the ultrasofts, managing 12th & 14th respectively. Kevin Magnussen of Haas F1 was the surprise name in the drop zone. Others to drop off were the two Williams drivers, Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne and the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley. Both the Saubers managed to scrape through to Q2.
Q2: Raikkonen tops while Sainz drops out
The second qualifying session started with most cars once again on hypersofts, but this time the Ferraris took the gamble on the ultrasofts. Seeing both their drivers struggle, they quickly changed over to the hypersofts as well. Max Verstappen set the initial benchmark time in the first runs. But then Raikkonen’s Ferrari put on the pink-striped hypersoft tyres and upstaged him with a 1:37.194s on his second run, which remained unbeatable in Q2.
Sergio Perez of Racing Point Force India managed to advance to Q3 for the first time at this circuit. Fernando Alonso did well but could not take his McLaren to Q3. It will be a blessing in disguise for Sunday, giving him a free tyre choice for the start. Carlos Sainz of Renault was the big surprise in the drop zone. Others to drop off in Q2 were Pierre Gasly, Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc.
Q3: Hamilton’s mega lap leaves Ferrari dumbfounded
The top-ten shoot-out started with great expectations from both the Ferraris and Red Bulls. But Hamilton pulled a rabbit out of his hat, scorching the Marina Bay with an eye-popping 1:36.015s lap on his first run. Verstappen also put in a great 1:36.334s lap to go second fastest. Both the Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen tried hard but could not come close to beating them. The Scuderia’s troubles seem to be cropping up in the worst moments. There was disbelief in the Ferrari camp as Hamilton left them dumbfounded with his scorching lap.
Ricciardo also struggled with his set-up to end up only P6. Sergio Perez was the best of the rest at P7.
The Last Word
Ferrari has the faster car in race trim but Mercedes, especially in the hands of Hamilton, has the momentum. He is digging deeper and seems determined to shut the door on Vettel’s title chances. Pole position is vital, and more so on a street circuit like Singapore. Verstappen has also surprised all to be on the front row. Vettel needs to take the risk at the start but will have to be wary of triggering an incident like last year at the start. It’s all to play for in the flood-lit Marina Bay on Sunday.
The full time-sheet:
|2||33||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:38.751||1:37.214||1:36.334||14|
|6||3||RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER||1:38.153||1:37.406||1:36.996||12|
|7||11||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:38.814||1:38.342||1:37.985||19|
|9||31||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||1:38.912||1:38.534||1:38.365||20|
|15||10||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||1:39.614||1:39.691||13|
|17||28||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||1:39.809||8|
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