Ferrari's Charles Leclerc bags Singapore Grand Prix pole
World champion Lewis Hamilton, was second 0.191 seconds adrift, with Leclerc's Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel finishing third
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc put in a sensational lap under the spotlights to seize pole positions for Sunday's Singapore Formula One Grand Prix. The Monegasque, who also started the last two races in Belgium and Italy from the front, lit up the timing screens with a lap of one minute, 36.217 seconds. World champion Lewis Hamilton, was second 0.191 seconds adrift, with Leclerc's Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel third.
"Look at the time, I lost control three times in the lap," exclaimed a relieved Leclerc over the team radio. "Well done guys!" Saturday's pole was the fifth of Leclerc's career. Ferrari, who have struggled around twisty circuits had not been the favourites going into the weekend but Leclerc, who converted pole to victory in Spa and Monza, marked them out as contenders after setting the pace in the final practice sessions.
"I don't know where Ferrari picked up their pace today," said Hamilton who leads the championship by 63 points from team mate Valtteri Bottas. "This isn't one of their tracks. "I gave it absolutely all that I had. "It was as much as I could get out of the car. Vettel, who came into the weekend eclipsed by Leclerc after his run of successive wins, appeared to have pulled out some of the old magic, holding provisional pole after the first series of runs in the qualifying's final phase. But his second attempt was scrappy and Vettel, going slower than his previous best, aborted it and pulled back into the pits. Saturday was the seventh successive time the German four time champion had been outqualified by his 21-year-old team mate.
"Obviously the final attempt should have been better, but the car was quick and I was feeling good," said the 32-year-old whose future and whether he will see out his Ferrari contract that runs until the end of 2020 is the subject of much speculation. "We had a tiny wobble so there was no point finishing the lap because we were quite far behind. "It will certainly feel different tomorrow, but it should be a good race," added the German who hasn't won for more than a year. Hamilton and Vettel have both won four times in Singapore, with the pair the most successful drivers at the event.
The race has been won from pole eight times out of 11, complicating the duo's hopes of taking an unprecedented fifth win. Max Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull. The Milton Keynes-based team have finished second in Singapore for the last five years and had been hoping to go one better this year. But they seemed to lack the speed to challenge for pole after Verstappen ended Friday's opening practice fastest. Bottas, who has never started the Singapore race in the top three, was fifth.
Alexandar Albon, in only his third race for Red Bull after moving over from Toro Rosso, was sixth. The Singapore Grand Prix is the closest the British-born Thai rookie has to a home race. Carlos Sainz was seventh for McLaren ahead of Renault pair Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg. McLaren's British rookie Lando Norris rounded out the top ten.
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