Stunning Vettel grabs Singapore pole
S- Ferrari ' s Sebastian Vettel came from nowhere to seize pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix as he threw down the gauntlet to c hampionship l e a der Lewis Hamilton yesterday.
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 three-tenths of a second."Yesterday (Friday) was difficult, this afternoon was difficult but tonight the car just came alive," said Vettel, who looked stunned by his own performance.
Quali f y i ng has often been c r uci a l in
S i ngapore, where seven of the nine races so far have been won by the driver who s ta r ted from pole.
Ve t te l was 11th in
Friday's sec- ond free practice session, and he took a chunk out of one of the circuit's walls in the final pre-qualifying run-out 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.
The drivers had got off to a slow start after a fire in a Porsche Carrera Cup race before qualifying left oil on the track at Turn 20, making conditions treacherous.
"The oil seems everywhere in the final sector," complained Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, as the early times were far slower than those seen in practice.
Williams driver Felipe Massa slid into the barriers, puncturing a rear tyre, and he was one of the five to drop out in Q1 as Verstappen and Ricciardo led the