Sebastian Vettel storms to brilliant Singapore pole
Singapore Grand Prix - Qualifying

Sebastian Vettel storms to brilliant Singapore pole

Sebastian Vettel unleashed two sensational qualifying laps to snatch pole position from Red Bull at the Singapore Grand Prix, while championship rival Lewis Hamilton had to settle for fifth on the grid.

Red Bull looked like the team to beat in practice, but Vettel turned up the pace in the final session of qualifying and crossed the line with a 0.323s margin over Max Verstappen in second. Daniel Ricciardo had to settle for third, just 0.026s off his Red Bull teammate, but will start ahead of the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in fourth. After another difficult session under the spotlights of Singapore, championship leaders Mercedes were relegated to the third row of the grid, with Hamilton 0.635s off Vettel and Valtteri Bottas over 1.3s off pole.

Vettel's advantage over the Red Bulls lay in sectors one and two, but may have extended to sector three had he not clipped the wall on the exit of Turn 19 on his fastest lap. Fortunately for Vettel he escaped the collision unscathed bar a scuffed wheel rim and went on to complete one of the standout qualifying performances of his season. It will have been made all the sweeter by Hamilton's struggles, with three cars -- including Vettel's teammate Raikkonen -- separating the championship rivals on Sunday's grid.

Once again, Mercedes will be left scratching their heads after qualifying in Singapore, which has proved to be a bogey circuit for the team throughout the turbo hybrid era. The race pace of the Red Bulls and Ferraris both looked competitive, and with no changes allowed on the cars ahead of Sunday's race, Hamilton and Bottas will have their work cut out to move up the order.

They may also face a threat from behind after Nico Hulkenberg continued his promising form this weekend with seventh place on the grid for Renault. He managed to sneak ahead of the two McLarens that looked competitive throughout the three sessions and will line up eighth and ninth on Sunday's grid. Carlos Sainz rounded out the top ten for Toro Rosso, but was 0.658s off Vandoorne in ninth.

Jolyon Palmer was 0.281s off a place in Q3 after losing the rear of his car -- and crucial tenths of a second -- in the final sector. The Renault driver will start the race 11th on the grid ahead of Sergio Perez, who aborted his final attempt while asking the Force India pit wall "what have you done with the tyres?". Daniil Kvyat qualified 13th and returned to the pits saying "I'm fed up with this s---" after setting a time 0.5s off teammate Sainz. Esteban Ocon will line up 14th on the grid ahead of Haas driver Romain Grosjean in 15th.

Kevin Magnussen missed out on a place in Q2 by just 0.129s from teammate Grosjean and will start 16th on the grid. Both Williams drivers struggled throughout qualifying and will start 17th and 18th, with Lance Stroll 0.714s off teammate Felipe Massa, who suffered a puncture on one of his quick laps when he hit the wall at Turn 21. The two Saubers will make up the back row and were split by 0.511s in favour of Pascal Wehrlein.

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