Stunning Vettel takes pole at Singapore GP, Hamilton fifth
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel came from nowhere to seize pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix as he threw down the gauntlet to championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel, who had struggled in practice, timed a record 1min 39.491sec at the floodlit Marina Bay street circuit ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen will start fourth with Hamilton, who leads Vettel by just three points in the standings, fifth ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Verstappen, 19, had looked set to become the first teenager on pole but Vettel stormed through with two blistering laps in the final session to clinch it by threetenths of a second.
“Yesterday was difficult, this afternoon was difficult but tonight the car just came alive,” said Vettel, who looked stunned by his own performance.
Qualifying has often been crucial in Singapore, where seven of the nine races so far have been won by the driver who started from pole.
Vettel was 11th in Friday’s second free practice session, and he took a chunk out of one of the circuit’s walls in the final pre-qualifying runout on Saturday.
He was just 12th in Q1, the opening section of qualifying, before improving to fourth in Q2. But he is now in a great position to claim his fifth win in Singapore, while Hamilton will be up against it when he starts from the third row of the grid.
“I knew we had it in us. It was a bit of a struggle to get there but now I’m just happy,” Vettel said.
SEBASTIAN VETTEL STORMED THROUGH WITH TWO BLISTERING LAPS IN THE FINAL SESSION