Lewis Hamilton laid down a blisteringly quick 1:36.015 to claim an unexpected pole position for Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.
“Wow… wow that was a hard qualifying session that lap felt like magic I don’t know where it came from but it all came together,” said an overjoyed Hamilton after pipping his more favoured rivals.
“Singapore is a beautiful track, my heart is racing and I’m really happy.
“It was really special, I don’t think there was a bad moment in the lap, it was just perfect.”
As if qualifying isn’t tense enough there was a bit of late drama for Sebastian Vettel prior to the start of the session.
According to reports Ferrari found an electrical problem with his car, which led to his mechanics removing the floor. After a bit of work on the car, they brought in a new floor with the German ready to roll with minutes to spare.
Not ideal prep for Ferrari and Vettel as they’ve had to change the floor with just a few minutes to go for Qualifying… Lots of Italian arm waving, which could frankly mean both, they’re happy and not! pic.twitter.com/W8sZZSCrGJ
— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) September 15, 2018
The track temperature was 33’C at the start of Q1 with the humidity levels 71%. The drivers were again warned against touching the newly-painted yellow line outside of the Turn 7 kerb. Any driver doing so would lose their lap time.
Kevin Magnussen begun proceedings with a 1:39.8 but by the end of Q1 the P1 time was down to a 1:38.153 which belonged to Daniel Ricciardo.
Lance Stroll became the first driver to lose his lap time for touching the yellow line at Turn 7. He finished slowest of all with Magnussen, Brendon Hartley, Stoffel Vandoorne – who kissed the wall – and Sergey Sirotkin all out.
The Williams pairing were 1.4s off the pace of their nearest rival!
During Q2 Ferrari initially ventured out on the ultrasoft tyres but were quickly back in the pits for the hypers.
Vettel told his pit wall: “If you believe the merits of starting on the option (ultrasoft) tyre, I can do it.” His engineer responded “no, this is too risky, we’ll go with the qualy (hypersoft) tyre.”
With the hypersofts on his SF71H Raikkonen went quickest with a 1:37.194 with the top-five separated by two-tenths of a second. Out were Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc – who whacked the wall, Marcus Ericsson and Pierre Gasly.
Boy, do we have a final shootout on our hands, now!
The top five covered by just two tenths…
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) September 15, 2018
The final part of qualifying seemed to belong to Lewis Hamilton, the Brit laying down a blistering 1:36.015, while Max Verstappen was second. Vettel in third was six-tenths off the pace.
“Try next time to get me a good out lap – I notice the Mercedes are a lot slower than us,” said Vettel.
A second run on new hypersofts saw Hamilton fail to improve on his earlier time while Vettel went purple in the first sector and Verstappen in the second.
Neither, though, could match the Mercedes driver’s 1:36.015. Verstappen finished second with Vettel third.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth ahead of Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez.
Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top ten.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.015
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 0.319s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 0.613s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 0.687s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.779s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 0.981s
7 Sergio Perez Force India 1.97s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas 2.305s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India 2.35s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 2.573s
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:38.641
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:38.716
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber 1:38.747
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:39.453
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:39.691
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:39.644
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:39.809
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:39.864
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1:41.263
20 Lance Stroll Williams 1:41.334
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