Vet­tel ‘knew we had it in us’ as Fer­rari seize pole at Sin­ga­pore GP

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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 yes­ter­day.

Vet­tel, who had strug­gled in prac­tice, timed a record 1 min, 39.491 secs at the flood­lit Marina Bay street cir­cuit ahead of Red Bull Rac­ing’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 team­mate 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 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 run-out on Saturday.

He was 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 Fer­raris set a quick pace at the start of Q2 as first Raikko­nen and then Vet­tel went top, be­fore Ver­stap­pen re­turned to the head of the ta­ble with a time of 1:40.379.

Ver­stap­pen and Ric­cia­rdo led the Fer­rari pair and Hamil­ton into the top 10 shootout, and the Dutch teenager soon gunned to 1:39.814 - be­fore be­ing eclipsed by Vet­tel’s 1:39.669.

Ver­stap­pen made a hash of his fi­nal lap and Vet­tel low­ered his time to 1:39.491, af­ter­wards whoop­ing and shout­ing to his team­mates in Ital­ian as he cel­e­brated pole.

“It was a shame we couldn’t put it on pole. The fi­nal lap wasn’t great but it was pretty close,” Ver­stap­pen said.

Reuters

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel flew to a 1 minute, 39.491-sec­ond lap around the Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix street cir­cuit to claim pole

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