Lewis Hamilton storms to pole in Singapore
The Briton lit up the timing screens with a one minute 36.015 second effort on his first attempt, setting the fastest time ever recorded around the city track in the process, even if the layout has been shortened by two meters this year
Lewis Hamilton put on a dazzling display under the floodlights, pulling out a lap that even he couldn't repeat, to take pole position for today's Singapore Grand Prix. The Briton lit up the timing screens with a one minute 36.015 second effort on his first attempt, setting the fastest time ever recorded around the city track in the process, even if the layout has been shortened by two meters this year.
That put him 0.319 seconds clear of Red Bull's Max Verstappen who, suffering from engine problems, was just as surprised as anyone to qualify on the front row and beat Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. The German had been favourite for pole going into the hour-long session, having led a Ferrari one-two in final practice. But ultimately, he could manage no better than third with a time that was 0.613 seconds off his title rival's pace.
Yesterday's pole was the 79th of Hamilton's career and seventh this season. He clinched it on his first attempt with even his final flier falling short of his previous benchmark. It puts him in the best possible position to clinch a fourth win at what has over the last few seasons proven to be a bogey track for Mercedes.
"Wow, that was a hardcore qualifying session. That lap felt like magic," said the Briton. "I tell you this track is epic. It's so difficult, this track. It's Monaco on steroids really." For Vettel, the result comes as a setback to his hopes of triumphing at at what is as good as a must win event for him.
The German, who crashed out of the Singapore race last year on the opening lap despite starting from pole, has fallen 30 points behind Hamilton in the overall standings after a mistake-strewn season. He has only seven races, including today's 61-lap floodlit scorcher, to claw the deficit back.
"I think qualifying for us wasn't as smooth as it should've been," said the 31-year-old, who was heard complaining to his team about being let out into traffic, during the final phase of qualifying. "The race is a different story," he added. "So I think by tomorrow things will look different, but for sure not happy with how the day went."
Valtteri Bottas was fourth for Mercedes, ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo. Sergio Perez was seventh for Force India, with the Haas of Romain Grosjean eighth. Esteban Ocon was ninth in the other Force India with Renault's Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top-ten.
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