Singapore: Sebastian Vettel broke Mercedes' stranglehold on F1 qualifying by storming to his maiden pole for Ferrari in qualifying for today's Singapore GP. Vettel lapped the Marina Bay street circuit in one minute 43.885 seconds, ahead of Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
Sebastian Vettel. Pic/AFP
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were only fifth and sixth for Mercedes, the duo clearly struggling on a hot and humid evening under the floodlights. Their fastest effort was about a second-and-a-half slower than Vettel's benchmark. Saturday's pole was Vettel's first since the season-ending Brazilian GP in 2013.
"Unbelievable. I know it's only Saturday and obviously the main job is coming tomorrow but I had to enjoy the moment when I heard that we made it," Vettel said.
Mercedes have started every race this season from pole. The last time Mercedes were beaten in qualifying was at last year's Austrian GP, making this just the second time in 32 races that a silver arrow has not started from the top spot.
Both Hamilton and Rosberg struggled all session long and suspicions that the pre-race favourites were holding back soon gave way to reality that the champions were simply not fast enough. The Marina Bay circuit is a difficult circuit to overtake on. Only twice in the seven-year history of the race has a driver starting lower than pole gone on to win.
Meanwhile, Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was 11th while teammate Sergio Perez was 13th.