Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc surprised the pack with pole in F1 Singapore GP from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
The first part of F1 Singapore GP qualifying under the lights at Marina Bay Sands circuit had Mercedes lead the way with Valtteri Bottas ahead of Lewis Hamilton as they ran two different compounds.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was third and comfortably ahead of Sebastian Vettel. There was minor scare for McLaren’s Carlos Sainz when he reported of lack of power on his out lap but he continued on.
The bottom rug had Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat (1m39.957s) missing out in 16th with Racing Point’s Lance Stroll (1m39.979s) 17th, Haas’ Romain Grosjean (1m40.277s) 18th and Williams’ George Russell (1m40.867s) 19th and Robert Kubica (1m41.186s) 20th.
There was no strategy difference for Sunday’s Singapore GP as everyone used the soft compound for their first runs. Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Raikkonen had trouble though after hitting the wall.
The team changed few bits as he ventured out for the final run. Interestingly, both the Ferrari drivers went for a quick lap with Leclerc ahead of Vettel by 0.070s and Hamilton third.
It was a close fight in the end for a Top 10 finish as Racing Point’s Sergio Perez (1m38.620s) – who has a five-place grid penalty – was 11th, missing by just the 0.040s margin. Both the Alfa Romeo drivers were out too.
Antonio Giovinazzi (1m38.697s) was ahead in 12th with Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly (1m38.699s) in between him and Raikkonen (1m38.858s). Haas’ Kevin Magnussen (1m39.650s) was 15th.
The fight for Singapore GP pole got interesting with Vettel taking provisional pole with a 1m36.437s lap ahead of Leclerc and Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, with the two Mercedes behind.
Replays showed Vettel brushing the wall on his quick lap but was unharmed. The second runs saw a delayed run out from the Mercedes drivers and Red Bull’s Alexander Albon.
The second run went haywire for Vettel as he dived into the pits without completing the lap with Leclerc improving eventually to make it three out of three F1 poles in Singapore GP with a 1m36.217s lap.
Mercedes’ Hamilton (1m36.408s) could only manage second with Vettel (1m36.437s) keeping third, while Red Bull’s Verstappen (1m36.813s) beat Bottas (1m37.146s) to be fourth as Albon (1m37.411s) rounded out sixth.
In a fight between McLaren and Renault, Carlos Sainz (1m37.818s) was seventh with Daniel Ricciardo (1m38.095s) and Nico Hulkenberg (1m38.264s) in between and Lando Norris (1m38.329s) rounding the Top 10.
UPDATE: Post-qualifying, the FIA summoned Renault and Ricciardo as the Australian exceeded the MGU-K limit during his Q3 lap. After a hearing later in the day, he has been disqualified from qualifying as expected.
Renault stated: “Renault F1 Team acknowledges the decision from the FIA Stewards to disqualify Daniel Ricciardo from the qualifying session of the Singapore Grand Prix after he benefitted from an advantage measured at one-microsecond due to a kerb hit that caused his MGU-K to overrev on his slowest lap of Q1. The decision will therefore not be appealed.”
His disqualification means some of the drivers will at least stand to gain one place, while a penalty for Perez will see some gain two places, with Ricciardo likely to start from the back.