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Hamilton delivers “magic” lap for Singapore F1 GP Pole
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Posted By: Editor   |  15 Sep 2018   |  4:04 pm GMT  |  274 comments

With Ferrari having the quicker car in two of the last three Singapore Grands Prix, many expected them to demonstrate the pace required to reignite their challenge for the championships, but Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton delivered an astounding lap to take a surprise pole position at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

In a season which is becoming renowned for Hamilton’s ability to take pole position at unlikely venues, the Briton secured his 79th career pole position – his seventh of the season – to beat Max Verstappen and championship rival Sebastian Vettel, who finished over six tenths of a second behind.

With Ferrari bailing out of their attempts to start the race on the ultrasoft tyre, the team in red face a challenge to prove they can handle the degradation of the hypersoft tyre and mount a challenge to the front two.

“That was a hard qualifying session, that lap felt like magic!” said Hamilton.

“I don’t really know where it came from, but it all came together. Naturally I want to say a huge thank you to all the team back at the factory, everyone’s working so hard to pull out the little extra bits and today I just managed – for that one lap – to get it right.

“I only had that one lap in me, I couldn’t go any faster.”

Equally as surprising was Max Verstappen’s ability to place his Red Bull on the front row of the grid, missing out on the youngest driver to claim a pole position by just over three tenths of a second. Considering Red Bull have greater confidence in their race pace than their qualifying pace, the team will undoubtedly be buoyed by the result.

Third-place Vettel finished just ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who ended up several tenths behind his team-mate, whilst Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top six.

Force India’s Sergio Perez secured ‘group B’ honours with seventh place, ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean and team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Qualifying Session One

Such was the gap between the top teams and the cut-off for Q1, Mercedes elected to try and progress to Q2 using the ultrasoft tyre, as opposed to the fastest available tyre, the hypersoft.

Their laps in the low-1:39 zone were sufficient to see them through, although nerves would’ve been tested with Hamilton eventually falling down to 14th.

Haas’ gamble on being able to progress with Kevin Magnussen’s early lap backfired. The Dane was eliminated – conversely team-mate Romain Grosjean finished Q1 up in fourth place – along with Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne – who struck the wall at the penultimate corner – and the two Williams, who were a distant nineteenth and twentieth, more than one second slower than their Q1 rivals.

Qualifying Session Two

With the rules indicating that anybody who progresses into Q3 must start the race on the tyres they used to set their best time in Q2, Ferrari experimented with trying to progress on the ultrasoft-compound tyre.

Vettel’s sole attempt at qualifying on the ultrasoft tyre put him in tenth place, whilst Raikkonen bailed out altogether, and both Ferraris were sent out again on the hypersoft tyre.

The Red Bulls gave their first indications of being able to compete in qualifying by initially setting the pace with Verstappen, but his time was duly beaten by the late effort from Raikkonen. Vettel would likely have been in the mix for top spot, but his progression into Q3 was threatened by a lot of traffic.

The only minor surprise of the session was Carlos Sainz’s failure to make it into Q3, especially after a competitive showing from Renault.

Joining him on the sidelines were McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, the two Sauber’s of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson, and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.

Qualifying Session Three

With many anticipating that Ferrari would be the favourites in Singapore, the qualifying hour was turned on its head when two storming opening laps from Hamilton and Verstappen put the pair on the front row of the grid.

The Mercedes man clocked a 1:36.015 to out-pace Vettel by over six tenths of a second on his first lap, whilst Verstappen overcame earlier power unit issues to drag his Red Bull in between the two championship contenders.

Vettel set a purple first sector on his second lap, whilst Verstappen went purple in the second sector, but neither could generate any improvements and challenge Hamilton.

Bottas was three-quarters of a second off his team-mate in fourth, whilst neither fifth-placed Raikkonen or sixth-placed Ricciardo could rival the laps of their respective team-mates.

The Force India team are threatening to continue their superb form by qualifying seventh and ninth with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon respectively, separated by Haas’ Romain Grosjean. The top ten was completed by Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX, Qualifying

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.015s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m36.334s 0.319s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m36.628s 0.613s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m36.702s 0.687s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m36.794s 0.779s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m36.996s 0.981s
7 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m37.985s 1.970s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m38.320s 2.305s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m38.365s 2.350s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m38.588s 2.573s
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m38.641s
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m38.716s
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m38.747s
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m39.453s
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m39.691s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m39.644s
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m39.809s
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m39.864s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m41.263s
20 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m41.334s

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

Who do you think is the favourite to take the victory at the Singapore Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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1

for ferrari to win, they need hamilton!

2

…to DNF?

3

So who do you thinks going to win on Sunday ?

Wait a minute it’s Monday and guess what ?

Lewis won no DNF .

Ps I did watch last year’s start frame by frame 60/40 . Still Vettel should have done a Kimi and given alot more room to Max rather than squeeze to the left.

I do agree that Alonso should have been debagged the victory 10 years ago. It was cheating but then again there are a few races and championships that Schumacher should not have won because of his actions .

4

I Call BULL S**T on Mercs claim that they are the underdogs 😀

They probably struggled a bit early in the season, but for sure are the faster car in the race and Sandbagging in the last few practise sessions.

What is even more funny is they make Ferrari actually believe that Ferrari is faster and let them implode under pressure when they find they cannot pull away with the supposedly fastest car on the gird 😉

5

But how about Bottas. He wasn’t faster than max and vet.

This does look like something very special from lewis alone, but you probably know better😃😃

7

NO, Sebee is not a driver (of the racing variety), just an arm-chair anti-enthusiast. Can’t less knowledgeable than that! LOL

Of course it’s Lewis really dialled-in at the moment. The point about relative to V Bottas is correct.

8

Singapore is a driver’s track for sure.

Amazing Hamilton!

Am hoping for a good start and no one gets taken out for a proper race amongst the top drivers. Racetime!

9

HAM, superb drive, Vettel, great. Max, fantastic – please don’t crash on the first two corners. But I have a feeling, scratching my head and a question mark that Ric, Sainz, Raik and others couldn’t get their tyres working or where just left baffled at what happened to their qualy laps. Something unknown which was just unlucky for them or just got in the way of making a good run. Oh well. Skill definitely was involved at qualifying but also baffling misfortune. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Maybe it was just to damn hot.

10

How bany have won from pole in Singapore?

How many have won with a jr on the Wall?

11

Great lap from Lewis.

I have no idea how he found 1.3 seconds from Q2 to Q3?

Has there been any advancement in qualy mode?

Merc seem to have sorted out their set up issues in Singapore. It seems the Ferrari is no longer the fastest car, again!

Hoping for something interesting to watch tonight!

12

That was a stunning lap by Lewis. Also, and I know it’s off-topic, why did Merc confirm Valterri so early? I would love to have seen Esteban in the second Merc seat in 2019. My fear is that if he doesn’t get a seat at Toro Rosso or Williams, he may be lost to F1, which would be a tragedy.

13

Hi , Hamilton’s lap was really very good but if praise is to be heaped on someone it should go to Verstappen, driving a sick car that was also a lot down on top speed and yet he still finished only .3 sec behind hamilton – that’s what you call fantastic and stardust !

Can you imagine what Verstappen would have done in the Merc – I can, and he would have wiped the floor with Hamilton.

Maybe that’s why Hamilton keeps subtly mentioning retiring because he knows that as soon as Verstappen gets a really competitive car Hamilton will be history – and that’s what I would call a Senna moment.

Hamilton seems intent on trying to mentally destroy the other drivers – remember his reactions when Rosberg retired as Champion, and Hamilton knew he would never have a chance to beat him again.

I really do believe that he has morphed into the D.Icke of motor sport.

Over the last several years he has been in the very dominant car and if any other top driver had had a car to genuinely challenge the Merc I don’t think Hamilton would have had so many wins and chanmpionships.

14

Merc confirmed Bottas early because he was having a very good, albeit terribly unlucky year. Bottas by rights should’ve won in China and Baku, which would make his season appear a whole lot different now.

I worry about losing Ocon, but I think if he doesn’t go to Williams, that he’ll be reserve for Mercedes, and then Bottas will be under threat for 2020. It does suck for him, seeing Leclerc get into Ferrari and Verstappen with Red Bull. Those are the guys he beat in the junior categories. His time will come.

15

I agree, Bottas isn’t doing that car justice. Like last year, he’s having a bad 2nd half of the season and has generally been slow since Silverstone. Would much rather see what Ocon could do.

16

Is it that Hamilton won the Pole or gotten into Seb’s head?. Whenever Lewis is around Seb seems faltering. B.T.W it was an amazing lap by Lewis and goes on to show why he is the best in the business in the likes of James Hunt and Senna.

17

Hunt the shunt? Really??

18

Hey come on Redline Hunt The Shunt is a legend. Flip flops in a Tuxedo with a bottle of Bolli (and Barry Sheene in tow)…he is the only man who can get away with that. Also he is Kimi’s idol. Hunt was entertaining on and off the circuit unlike some the media drones in modern day racing.

19

WOW!!! That was fantastic to watch!

A truly sublime, on-the-absolute-limit-but-beautifully-smooth lap from Lewis. He kind of said to Brundle that lap was probably his best.

Those single feats of greatness come but once in a lifetime for a select few – and never for most people.

“In the zone” comes to mind.

Seb, well … after his mate Kimi getting the axe, a widely adored super quick Ferrari rookie being appointed to the team and Arrivabene sticking even more pins into the Vettel Voodoo Doll by saying that he and his bosses pick the drivers, not Seb …. it seems his usual level of super confidence has dropped along with his lip and shoulders. He’s openly admitted that he’s been his own worst enemy this year and even his smug comments to the media are few and far between this weekend.

All of that in a few short days was hard enough for a super proud person like him to take in but, then he hit the wall and the wind seems to have completely come out of his sails.

He seems to be showing signs of the same deflated demeanour as when Ricci made him look second rate at RBR?

There’s plenty to play out at the start and in the first corner tonight now. It’s going to be the most anticipated twenty seconds of the season so far when the 5 Red Lights come on for many reasons.

And what if MadMax gets a very good start, HAM may just yield and allow KidKrash to take the lead without jeopardising his car in a wheel to wheel battle in turn one that could rapidly undo his great work in Quali.

The biggest question for me is, what if they all get off the start lineastern? Seb will be looking down the barrel at a best result of 3rd place and going 40 points behind in the championship … soooooo … VET may just allow the old red (black & yellow) mist to take over AGAIN and suddenly decide it’s better to take them both out at turn one in a Schuey-esque move! Micheal is his hero after all.

Antics like deliberately hitting Webber in Turkey, Multi 21, Mexico 2015, screaming at Charlie Whiting over the radio and driving into Lewis in Baku are some perfect examples of what he’s capable of when things don’t go his way, he spits his dummy and throws all toys out of the cot!

Don’t forget, “manufacturing results by dirty deeds” has happened before here in Singapore … like ten years ago with Piquet Jnr and Flav!

An intriguing night ahead … to say the least.

20

What about the lap of VER ? so close to HAM’s monster lap?!!!

Only losing on the straights to HAM.

21

Verstappen has an opportunity here to show he has some maturity. I hope he understands he can’t win the race at the first corner, but he could wreck it for several others.

22

“There’s no one better on Saturdays since Senna.” – Mark Webber, Australian ex-F1 driver

“I’ve said that before.. my opinion Lewis is one of the best driver of all time, if not the best.” – Lucas DiGrassi, Brazilian ex-F1 driver

Anyone who loves racing appreciates the magic that Lewis produced in quali in Singapore, regardless of nationality or citizenship.

23

Note that the best of the best of the rest – Perez – is 1.970 sec. – nearly two full seconds – slower than pole. In effect, there are two classes sharing a racetrack – just like the SCCA in the old days. F1 should have two podiums – one for each class.

24

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying Hamilton is the best.

Having said that, the race is Verstappen’s for the taking.

25

Wrong! That’s wishful thinking my friend! lol

26

Ray, good point about Max, he can afford to get all kinds of aggressive into turn one, and Lewis will just have to let him go.

27

Comments are not published after several hours, no point to read on Sunday comments about qualify, eh? 🙂

28

Astonishing lap from Lewis! Hand the man the title already. The way he’s driving this year, he deserves it. Seb just doesn’t cut it when it comes to crunch time.

29

This is the sort of mash-up that we all long for in F1 – creating anticipation rather than monotony. I’m not a VER fan but all credit and applause when its due, as for HAM, I suspect his nay sayers are becoming increasingly silent.

30

Thanks Lewis for showing us your stunning skills, what a lap.

Excited for the race with Max on the front row. Three different teams at the front, put there by the drivers, thats definitely what i want to see as a fan.

31

Truly brilliant and stunning pole lap. Amazing to mange 23 corners on the limit without over cooking one.

Ferrari had hoped to start on pole on the ultrasoft tyre as their degradation on the hypersoft is worse than the Mercedes.

Now they are not on pole, their race strategy is severely compromised.

32

man….I give up!….For the rest of the year i am not gonna make any more predictions. I don’t know what the heck is going on anymore. Epic lap from Ham to nail that pole so congrats to him and even though i am not a fan of Max I give credit were credit is due and he did an equally epic job getting P2 with what he had with the Ferraris about. Will Max take out Ham in the first corner or vice versa? Who knows.

33

I think Mercedes is a cry baby – “Ferrari has the quicker car, bla-bla-bla”. Now you see who has what

34

ALWAYS BET HAM!! 😀

Is there any doubt?!? Seriously. Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton is one of – if not the greatest formula 1 driver ever. Haters, pick your jaw off the floor. 😉 #teamlh

35

One of the best pole laps I’ve seen from Lewis and, in my view, one of the best of all time, given the circumstances.

Often expecting him to deliver, this was not one of those occasions. I was speechless as it was more a slim hope than a genuine thought that LH could get pole.

I don’t know how many stunning poles and wins he needs to get to be considered by the critics as one of two or three best of all time.

If the Merc is the quickest, why was Bottas seven tenths down?

Regarding Hamilton’s place in Formula One history, rain is considered by all the experts to be the equaliser and where the skill truly shows, yet winning race upon race in the wet, it’s still the Mercedes car to many on here and elsewhere.

Why then has he won every race in the wet or mixed conditions since Hungary 2014 if it’s just the car? It’s 11 I believe in a row with rain.

As rain equalises the field, I guess he’s just lucky eh? 68 seconds in Britain 2008 was luck as well. As was taking pole by over a second in the rain in Monza 2017.

I can’t wait until he retires as then we’ll have the same conversation when Verstappen et al dominate and it’s only the car.

Remember how Rosberg, the “deserved” 2016 champion, was schooled by three drivers in Brazil 2016, was inches away from crashing into the wall and failing to become champion and his second place was saved by Red Bull’s tyre call late in the race. He had the same car as Lewis and won ZERO races in the wet yet the way many on here go on, he was robbed in 2014 and 2015 by unreliability, yet Lewis had qualifying failures in both those years that those people have conveniently forgotten. Rosberg from 2014 to 2016 didn’t have to start from the back once – middle of top 10 a couple of times – and was utterly outdriven in each of those seasons – less poles, podiums and race wins and a car which never failed in quali.

How many overtakes other than those at the lights did NR make?

Undoubtedly, Lewis has been given a few of the best ever F1 race cars but he has also delivered when it matters.

The last racing mistake he made I would think was Hungary 2015 when understeering on fresh tyres into Ricciardo.

The one omen for SV fans is LH has never won the title when winning in Hungary.

Mind you,Vettel had won every season he led the championship yet failed in 2017. Oh and hasn’t Hamilton led at one point in the championships in most seasons – 2009 and perhaps 2013 being two rare examples of not being in the hunt. A sign of a consistently decent driver.

Most of you will miss moaning about Lewis when he goes, so will no doubt have to either bring his “lucky” career up ad nauseam or start griping about the next F1 legend.

Could be Verstappen or maybe there’s a driver waiting in the wings we’ve not yet heard of.

36

@Dan

Excuse the curtness but “who cares?”

25, 50, 100 years from now, our opinions won’t matter. Certainly not his detracors’s, Lewis Hamilton’s, perhaps even “Sir” Lewis Hamilton’s exploits, will be written in the history books by people who actually know the sport or were officially involved, as arguably, the best driver ever in F1. The least they could call Hamilton would be “one of the best ever”.

No one’s opinion here will matter, only Hamilton’s poles, wins, titles and records. AndI can guarantee you, time will be even kinder to the British legend.

Hamilton’s incredible legacy is already secured. His wins in the wet alone auromatically includes him in the “best ever” discussion.

37

Including yours Top Gun….so how about some basic manners?

38

How about learning to read first Goose?

I did say “excuse the curtness” for the manners part and I don’t know how you missed the part when I wrote “OUR opinions won’t matter”. So yes, that includes mine…Top Gun.

39

We’ve heard of the next F1 legend already… step forward Lando Norris.

But LH will win a fair few more titles yet before it’s Lando’s time. By the end of his current contract in 2020 he’ll have won 7 so it makes sense to stay on another year to make it 8. Maybe he could even get 10…

40

I have to say the result that really depressed me today was Williams . After the result Monza with a points score I was hoping they had turned a corner but clearly that was a track specific flash in the pan . Having your fastest car 19th & 1.399s off 18th placed Vandoorne in Q1 is surely as bad as it gets for a once mighty team. Their staff at the circuit and at Grove must feel pretty low tonight. Even if the result is perhaps not entirely surprising it doesn’t make it any less sad.

41

Exceptional laps from Lewis and Max, congratulations to the pair of them for a great result. A shame the track seemed to go off a bit for the final runs, but it was still pretty exciting.

Can Lewis stay ahead tomorrow? The Ferrari is still a very fast car, but overtaking isn’t easy, so maybe. I wonder how much quicker Seb could have gone if he had delivered a clean lap or not affected his preparations by hitting the wall in practice? Looking at Lewis’ lap it seems unlikely he would have got pole, but the front row was clearly in reach. Having watched the side by side comparison you can see that Seb made two clear errors on his fastest lap, and Lewis made none. It is also clear that the Ferrari remains faster in a straight line, but the Merc looked better balanced.

Was the q3 coverage directed by Kimi’s mrs? We saw every metre of both of his runs, but the four faster guys were all ignored!

42

not affected his preparations by hitting the wall in practice

I’m on holiday this week so I watched a bit of practice – it was really funny as the commentary team were bigging up Vet , saying how he’s the master of Singapore and how he isn’t frightened of flirting with the walls etc – then right on cue, bang! 😂

43

C63, the commentators curse strikes again! Ferrari have been lurching from one error to the next all weekend haven’t they?

44

Undoubtedly a brilliant lap from Hamilton, beating Bottas by 0.68s, looked incredible watching as well.

However it is interesting to note that Alonso best his teammate by 0.84s and Verstappen beat Ricciardo by 0.66s and was 1.2s faster on the first run.

Credit due to Hamilton for doing it while battling at the front but how sure are we that it was in relative terms any better than these other 2? Interesting to think about.

Personally given my estimation of Ricciardo, I reckon Verstappen was as impressive.

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