Lewis Hamilton will start from pole for the Singapore Formula 1 night race. In humid conditions Hamilton found what he would call magic. Team principal Toto Wolff would dub it the “stardust” lap. In what will be a piece of history, Hamilton’s time of 1:36.015 is a full three seconds quicker than this year’s P3 getter and last year’s pole sitter, Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel himself is said to be disappointed with what he would consider a poor run by his own high standards, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen the buffer between he and the Mercedes driver.
Vettel will also have to deal with silver to his side as Valtteri Bottas claimed fourth for the grid in the Singapore race. He’ll be ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and the second Red Bull car with Daniel Ricciardo, a driver with a lot to gain here at Singapore, in sixth. Sergio Perez finds himself in P7, his first Singapore top ten starting point, and more good news for the Force India team. The final top ten places go to Haas and Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon from Force India, and Renault’s Nico Hulkenburg.
The qualifying sessions were run in warm and humid conditions, with the temperature better suited to the hypersofts. Teams sent their drivers out on ultrasofts in P1, with drivers quickly reporting the rubber wasn’t suited to the conditions. Mercedes themselves gambled on Hamilton and Bottas with the ultrasofts, only to find both close to being rubbed out from the first session, with Hamilton at 14th and Bottas on 12th. Lance Stroll and Seregey Sirotkin in the Williams pair of cars soon exited, a full three seconds shy of where they needed to be. Kiw Brendon Hartley in the Toro Rosso also didn’t find pace, as did Kevin Magnussen in his Haas.
Q2 saw Ferrari emulate Mercedes, with Raikkonen and Vettel on the slower rubber, before the Finn called in and said the cars was slow. Tires were quickly changed and soon enough the “Flying Finn” was at the top of the ladder. Ferrari’s recruit for 2019, Charles Leclerc, showed that his emerging talent still needs polishing, after rubbing his Sauber into the wall at turn 21. P13 would be his final result, ahead of Pierre Gasly in 15th and Marcus Ericsson in 14th.
But it was Q3 that had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Q2 had the first five cars separated by just two tenths and the pole position was up for grabs. Sebastian Vettel was on provisional pole with a 1:39 before the silver machine was wheeled out for its run. “We had two laps and they were both not good enough,” was Vettel’s verdict at the session end.
Hamilton himself said:” “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. “I want to say a huge thank you to all the team, everyone is working so hard to pull out extra bits and today, I managed just for that one lap to get it right. Next one, I was trying to push a bit more. I’m super overwhelmed, absolutely overwhelmed. My heart is racing, I might have an anxiety attack in a second!” Excited he should be considering his time is virtually 12 seconds quicker than his pole setting pace a decade ago.
The race is scheduled for a 20:10 local time start on Sunday.