F1 Singapore GP: Charles Leclerc beats Lewis Hamilton to pole position
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position ahead of the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday as the 21-year-old continued his good form from his last two wins in Spa and Monza in this season's Formula 1 calendar.
While this translated into a career 5th pole position and the third in a row for the Monegasque, Leclerc's teammate Sebastian Vettel completed the top three with a lap time of 1:36.437 ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
Valtteri Bottas was 5th fastest while Alexander Albon finished 6th and will start alongside the Finn. As expected, the Ferraris, the Mercedes' and the Red Bulls claimed the top six spots but not many tipped a Ferrari car to start the race from the front, come Sunday's showdown.
In what was a dramatic qualifying shootout, the result seemed to have surprised Leclerc, who had an average practice session on Friday as the youngster said, "I'm extremely happy - it was a very good lap but there were several moments when I almost lost control," and added, "I must thank the team - they have been amazing. Yesterday was not my day but this feels great," as he spoke out after yet another impressive show.
Hamilton was a little surprised of Ferrari's pace in qualifying as he said: "I don't know where Ferrari picked up their pace today, it was potentially not one of their tracks, but Charles put a great lap in. I think tomorrow we can be aggressive and hopefully divide them."
Here is how the drivers fared in the qualifying session ahead of the big race on Sunday.
At the start of Q1, McLaren's Carlos Sainz Jnr nearly had a bad start to the evening when his car looked to have lost power. The Spaniard himself even confirmed it on the team radio as he yelled, "I have no power!".
However, soon enough, Sainz's car picked itself up and found the power to be able to record a flying lap and despite the early difficulties with the car, Sainz took it into Q2.
Racing Point's Lance Stroll also had a scary moment in Q1 when the Canadian scraped the wall a couple of times, a similar scenario followed by his teammate Sergio Perez in FP3 when the Mexican caused damage to his right rear tyre.
In the last couple of minutes of Q1, Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen avoided an elimination scare by finishing in the top 15 of the leaderboard which placed Perez into the elimination zone but the Mexican put in one final push to stay in contention for Saturday's qualifying.
Kevin Magnussen was just outside the elimination zone after recently being confirmed as a Haas driver once more in 2020. But, for his teammate Romain Grosjean, the Frenchman was only 18th fastest, as he, unfortunately, missed out on participating in Q2.
Valtteri Bottas was top of the leaderboard after Q1.
OUT: Kubica, Russell, Grosjean, Stroll and Kvyat.
Kimi Raikkonen hit the wall with a bit of an impact towards the back of the Alfa Romeo, but the Finn addressed to his team on the radio feed that the damage was not major. The 2007 world champion, however, returned to the pits shortly after.
At the end of Q2, Pierre Gasly said on the team radio that he was having problems with the rear wing and the Frenchman could not move on to the final qualifying session.
Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were fastest, ahead of Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, while Bottas was 5th going into Q3.
OUT: Perez, Giovinazzi, Gasly, Raikkonen and Magnussen.
Q3 would host the up-close battle of the Mercedes, the Ferraris and the Red Bulls as all three teams were on top of one practice session each before qualifying had even begun.
On turn 20, Vettel's rear left tyre made a little contact with the wall as the German went straight back to the pits as the barriers yet again proved to be a major issue to the drivers over the weekend.
With four minutes left on the clock for the culmination of Q3, a majority of the remaining drivers went out for one last push for pole position.
Vettel aimed to seal pole position but instead went to the pits after making a mistake on his final flying lap. A few moments later, Leclerc clocked the fastest lap of the night as Hamilton's last-ditch effort was not enough to jump ahead of the Monegasque.
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