It was a weather turnaround on Saturday of F1 Singapore GP as Ferrari continued to showcase their pace, while mistake cost Max Verstappen.
The Saturday in F1 Singapore GP started on a wet note with drivers facing an extra challenge of the Marina Bay circuit being damp and greasy. It didn’t rain per se during the qualifying session, but the track didn’t dry enough quickly where they ran the intermediate tyres in Q1 and Q2.
All of the front-runners stuck to that plan and only switched to dry tyres in Q3. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen could have had pole but for a final sector miss on his penultimate attempt. He then was forced to abort his final lap as the team were worried about giving enough fuel sample to the FIA.
Naturally, Verstappen was left frustrated with the situation as he starts only eighth when he could have started from the front-row. His miss helped teammate Sergio Perez to be second where he barely missed pole against Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who admitted that the Dutchman could have taken pole.
For the race both the camps at Red Bull and Ferrari go into unknown due to the weather prediction, but they are looking more on at the start and getting everything cleanly. Leclerc is wary about the strategy too after losing out on the win to Sebastian Vettel in 2019 because of undercut.
The third wheel is likely to be Mercedes, where Lewis Hamilton seemed fairly confident about his chances. He did well all-through despite some limitations, while teammate George Russell was knocked out in Q2 due to brake issues he was facing all-through the session.
Leclerc: “There was the last sector that was quite tricky, because there were quite a lot of damp parts. Also, Turn 13 was quite tricky. So it was not the same everywhere. So you had to adapt and also go with the track improvements. But yeah, my… Not my last lap, but the one just before was really good and was the lap for pole. And my last lap, unfortunately I did a mistake. It wouldn’t have changed anything. But maybe if Max had finished the lap, we probably would have lost pole for this mistake. But overall, it’s been a positive Saturday. Looking at the race, I think our performances have been very, very strong. Also in the rain, in FP3 and in Q1, Q2. So I think in terms of performance, we are good.
“As I was saying, before coming to this weekend, our focus for the last part of the race is to improve on the Sunday execution so we’ll put all our effort to have a two hour clean Sunday and if we do then I’m pretty sure the performance will be there. Overall, I think the feeling with the car has been great all weekend long. So yes, we are missing a little bit of data for the race tomorrow but that doesn’t concern me too much. We just need to try and do everything perfect. And I’m pretty sure the result will be there.”
Perez: “It’s never nice to be so close to pole because it always brings you back to your lap and especially in such a long lap, you know that you could have done better here or there. But I guess it’s the same for everyone. With these tricky conditions, I think we all put in a tremendous effort to put the laps with it and, yeah, at the end of the day, Charles did a better job than us today and his team, and I think starting P2 we still can fight for the race. basically, we’re going blind tomorrow. We don’t have much information on the long run. So yeah, it will be interesting. I think it’s a place where deg seems to be really high and obviously the conditions – we are expecting a bit of rain just before the race, so there are still a lot of unknowns. But yeah, certainly we don’t have much information so we will find out tomorrow.”
Hamilton: “Everyone had a wet session in P3, so I couldn’t say that I had confidence. After P2, it looked like we were half-a-second behind these guys. And the car didn’t feel good in P3, quite a big gap to these guys and all of a sudden, in those damp conditions we were right with them. So that was a bit of a surprise. And in that moment, I was like ‘okay, it’s on’. Maybe this is our moment, maybe finally we have a chance to fight for the front row, fight for pole. So, I was giving it my all but I think for all of us, just very tricky conditions. For them, it was Turn 13; for me it was Turn 16, was a bit of a handful, lost a bit of time there, but I still have to be grateful to be on the front row. And yeah, we’ll see what we can do from here.
“It feels incredibly rewarding, I think, for everyone in the team. We’ve really started with a real handful, difficult deck of cards that we’ve created for ourselves and reshuffling, and lots and lots of work. Everyone staying really positive, or as positive as possible and everyone just being incredibly diligent and never giving up. So, it’s been an inspiring year for me, witnessing what my team do and being a part of that and yeah, I so badly want to… naturally the will and desire to get a good result for them, to pay them back for all their great work is part of it. Also, my fans have been the most incredible this year, on and off track. And we couldn’t have survived the year without them. So, I also want it for them. But I think we’ve got a great turnout here this weekend. And I hope that tomorrow we can give them a good show.”
Verstappen: “Two-point-seven seconds. It’s incredibly frustrating. Finding out it was the fuel… Basically, we ran out of fuel, but these things you can track throughout Q3, and they should have let me finish the lap before, where we were already on a pole position lap. At the end of the day, I can make mistakes, the team can make mistakes, but I think it’s always important that we can be critical to each other when people make mistakes, because these things, they shouldn’t happen.”
Russell: “I mean, the grip was fine, but we had a problem with the brakes and every time I just went into the corner, it was as if I was just going back on the throttle again, and the car was being pushed forward, so this issue just got progressively worse as the session continued. It was there in FP1, but obviously in the dry conditions it was less noticeable and less of a hindrance. Yeah, such a shame, because we’ve had a really strong car this weekend, and I don’t really have a lot more to say, really. Just bitterly disappointed, really. If it’s going to be a one-stop race it will make things difficult, but from what we saw yesterday it will probably be multiple stops. That will give us the chance to do something different in the midfield but we’re here to fight for the win and we had the fastest car yesterday in the high-fuel running, in the race pace, so yeah, disappointing.”
Behind them, AlphaTauri pair had a solid outing in F1 Singapore GP qualifying after both their cars made it in the Top 10 with Pierre Gasly in seventh and Yuki Tsunoda 10th. It was a turnaround from their Friday pace, very much like Haas’ Kevin Magnussen who ended up ninth after looking slow in FP1 and FP2.
His teammate Mick Schumacher did well in 13th too. For the fourth place fighters, it was a mixed situation where Alpine’s Fernando Alonso was fifth and McLaren’s Lando Norris sixth, but their teammates Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo were knocked out in Q1 itself for different reasons.
Gasly: “It was a lot of fun out there today. It was really tricky in every session with these conditions, sliding around everywhere, but I must say I’m super happy with P7. If you look at how our weekend was going so far, we didn’t look so good, but thanks to the rain this evening our day got a lot better. We know how important your starting position is here in Singapore, so being in P7 is really positive, with Lando and Fernando just ahead of us, so we’ll see what we can do from there. I think we have a big opportunity tomorrow to score points with both cars, so we need to utilise this to help in our Championship battle, and we’ve seen today that we can do well in these difficult conditions so I’m hoping for some more rain.”
Magnussen: “It’s been looking positive all weekend but not this positive. P9 was a bit more than we were expecting but it’s great because qualifying in Singapore is very important. I’m super happy that we got a good result here and the team did an amazing job. My new race engineer, Mark Slade, did a fantastic job coming back after some time not running a car as a race engineer, and he was flawless. At the end, in Q3, I told the team that I didn’t know what we should do and to make a decision, and they made absolutely the right ones. It was great just to be able to put all responsibility on them and they pulled it off.”
Ocon: “It was definitely not the session that we hoped for. We had some issues with the brakes on the last lap and the car pulling to the right and feeling disconnected. Obviously, we are not where we want to be, ending Q1 but tomorrow is what matters and hopefully we can get into the points tomorrow… The pace is there and that’s a very strong point of our car this weekend, so definitely we want to get back into the points tomorrow.”
Ricciardo: “Yesterday was certainly a struggle, no denying that. So, we made a lot of changes overnight and obviously very different conditions today but getting out into FP3 I felt actually we were in a more reasonable spot. “I felt like we were good enough to fight for whatever, the top 10 or thereabouts. So, like back in a respectable spot let’s say. So then we basically just sent it for qualifying, obviously the track dried a bit, but otherwise not really much else, and just in those conditions especially as the track dried more and more I could just feel that we could not extract much more lap time.”
For Aston Martin, the switch to slick compounds didn’t work in Q2 as both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll were knocked out then. They felt it was an early switch and they paid the price, which was similar for Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu. Teammate Valtteri Bottas wasn’t happy either along with Williams pair.
Vettel: “I think with hindsight it is easy to say that we made the switch to dry tyres too early, but it was a very close call. We discussed it and made the decision together and maybe I should have trusted my instincts a bit more. When I was on the soft tyres in the final moments of Q2, I had to really attack on the dry parts of the lap. I had a lock-up early on in the lap, but I think the final sector of the lap was still too wet anyway. For tomorrow, it would be helpful to have some more rain to mix things up again, but I think we have quite good race pace so we will try our best to challenge for points-paying positions.”
Bottas: “We looked good in the dry, so to go out in Q1 is disappointing. Conditions were quite tricky, the track as constantly changing with patches of dry and wet, but in the end we were quite unlucky with the timing: I was among the first to take the flag and, on the last lap, my tyres started to go. We had planned to do the whole of Q1 on one set of inters and it was hard to tell whether we should stop: when we realised what was happening, it was too late to pit, so we couldn’t improve when the track was at its best. Starting 16th is going to be a challenge, especially as this is the second hardest track on which to overtake: but you never know – this is Singapore, everything can happen and I believe in miracles.”
Albon: “It was a tricky qualifying session today. The wet normally calms things down, however this track is so hot and the tyres are so hot, so it’s difficult to manage the tyres. We were quite hard on our tyres and struggled with overheating, as well as with downforce, and when the track is drying out on wet tyres, it’s tough not to slide everywhere. Definitely a frustrating qualifying, however I think our long run pace in FP2 was actually pretty reasonable, so we’ll figure out a way to get into that pace again for the race. I’m feeling as ready as I can be for tomorrow so let’s see what we can do.”
Here’s how F1 Singapore GP qualifying panned out
Here’s what happened with Lewis Hamilton