F1: Lewis Hamilton claims Singapore pole with searing lap | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 15.09.2018
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F1: Lewis Hamilton claims Singapore pole with searing lap

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix from the front, while Sebastian Vettel could only manage third on the grid for Ferrari. Max Verstappen separates the title contenders.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton will have a clear track in front when the lights go out on Sunday under the floodlights in Singapore. Hamilton's first flying lap in the final session of qualifying, a 1:36.015, proved untouchable. The entire field, including Hamilton, couldn't top it in their last attempts to grab pole. 

"Wow. Wow! That was a hard qualifying session. That lap felt like magic. I don't really know where it came from, but it all came together," Hamilton told Sky commentator Martin Brundle immediately after the session. "Honestly I don't think there was a moment in the lap that was wide, or any problems. It was just perfectly to the limit."

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff described Hamilton's fast lap as "the most amazing I've ever seen."

Sebastian Vettel, under pressure to deliver trailing Hamilton by 30 points in the championship, will have to settle for third on the grid and a bird's eye view of Hamilton's gearbox at the start. 

"Not ideal, obviously. We wanted to get pole, we didn't. I think for us it was a bit of a messy qualifying session," Vettel said afterwards.

Read more:  Formula One: Crunch time for Sebastian Vettel in Singapore

Verstappen on song, but still not youngest pole-sitter

Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who had been struggling earlier in qualifying, pulled out an exceptional lap at the last to split the championship challengers. The 20-year-old has now qualified second on four occasions, but is yet to claim his first pole position in F1. He can still dethrone Vettel as the youngest ever driver to qualify on pole, but will have to wait for another weekend.

"Honestly this feels like a victory with the amount of problems I've had today," said Verstappen, alluding to issues he'd been having with his engine during the qualifying session. 

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas will start fourth, ahead of fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen. Daniel Ricciardo could only manage sixth in the second Red Bull, followed by Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Ocon and Germany's Nico Hülkenberg in his Renault. 

Hamilton won last year's race at Singapore, albeit thanks in large part to a three-way first-lap crash that took Vettel, Raikkonen and Verstappen out of the race. The twisty night race in hot and humid conditions is full of potential pitfalls for drivers, not least the short run off the start line into Turn 1. 

Singapur Formel 1 Rennen Marina Bay Circuit (Getty Images/L. Baron)

Last year's start at Singapore was a disaster for Ferrari

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