Singapore Grand Prix qualifying: Lewis Hamilton outpaces Sebastian Vettel to take pole

Oscar Cross
September 17, 2018

SINGAPORE: Lewis Hamilton won the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday in dominant fashion to increase his Formula One championship lead over Sebastian Vettel to 40 points with just six races remaining.

Max Verstappen of Red Bull will start on the front row for Sunday's race alongside Hamilton after coming second, 0.319sec behind the Englishman, but Sebastian Vettel could only manage third.

The British driver clinched the title a year ago, beating second-placed Vettel by 46 points.

Vettel, who had looked dominant in practice, has struggled to stamp his authority on the title race in a Ferrari regarded as superior to all of his rivals.

Raikkonen ended in fifth place, nearly eight tenths of a second behind Hamilton, the Finn lining up next to Daniel Ricciardo in the other Red Bull. Ricciardo was the only other driver to lap the 5.063 km track in lower than 1:37.000.

Verstappen says that it was a shame he lost a place at the start, but praises the team for selecting a great strategy that helped him push back up to second place.

Hamilton's lead over Verstappen was erased around the halfway point when he was held up as Sergey Sirotkin and Romain Grosjean fought in the midfield, and the championship leader admits that was his most nerve-racking moment of the race.

Vettel drifted away from Verstappen in the battle for second and ultimately came home a lowly third, his title ambitions taking a further hit.

"It's not ideal obviously, we wanted to get pole and didn't", said Vettel. "That includes Lewis' lap as an individual, but (also) them as a team".

More speed for Red Bull as Max Verstappen left Hamilton standing, even on the hyper-softs, before Raikkonen moved to the top of the card once again.

He said: "We tried to be aggressive in the beginning, and it didn't work out". "I know that not a single member of the hierarchy, like [strategist] James Vowles or Toto probably, really didn't think that was possible - maybe more of them".

Valtteri Bottas finished fourth in the other Mercedes while Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the second Ferrari.

Vettel pitted on lap 15 in his bid to undercut Hamilton for a new set of ultrasofts but Hamilton managed to come out ahead of the German, albeit on a much slower soft tyre, hoping it would last for a successful one-stop strategy.

"It's so hard to overtake here, " Hamilton said.

Hamilton's stunning pole Saturday was a record-extending 79th.

Vettel had jumped Verstappen on the opening lap of the race but his pit stop dropped him behind the yet-to-stop Sergio Perez, and the Red Bull driver used clear air to good advantage.

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