By: Myanna Wedes.
The night time lights are on and the drivers were eager to get in to the car for Q1. The heat was still there, humidity and barely any wind. Lights went green. Charles Leclerc was straight to the top of the times in Q1 to cement his power, precision and pace. Following was Max Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz, Sebastian Vettel, Alex Albon and Lando Norris. It was those who have been consistent across the weekend making it known. Ferrari and Mercedes were going head to head lap after lap showing one another their cards of dominance. One minute it as Leclerc and Vettel then it was Bottas and Hamilton.
Those who were eliminated after Q1 included: Daniil Kvyat, Lance Stroll, Romain Grosjean, George Russell and Robert Kubica. There were a combination of things that led to those exiting qualifying: lack of speed and performance, kissing the wall with the tyres and running wide. If you were ROKiT Williams Racing, imagine how you would be feeling when it is consistent rear of the grid placing! Something has to change in order for the team who has so much history to improve.
As we moved to Q2, the silver arrows were first out on the track. Sparks flying and a gap between the two. It was clear the two teammates meant business knowing the unexpected pace of Ferrari and Red Bull Racing because who knows what cards each team has up their sleeves to play in such a dynamic race. With ten minutes to go in this particular session, Leclerc was laying down the gauntlet with a 1.36.930 and extremely close within the top four on the grid. Speaking of close, Raikkonen hit the wall and was straight on to the radio as it occurred. Definitely not an ideal situation. With the marks left by Raikkonen, Leclerc stayed on top with Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas and Vettel looking at him with a target on his back. That ultimate bullseye opportunity.
Those who were eliminated after Q2 included: Kevin Magnussen, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovanazzi.
As the lights went green for Q3, the mind games were in full swing. Immediately as they exited the pit lane, Vettel was being held up by the McLaren team and Hamilton made mention of the traffic. Track position and strategy meant: Hammer Time had to be engaged at the perfect moment. At this challenging circuit, laser focus is required otherwise that fast lap you have always wanted to achieve goes out the window. Vettel put in a 1.36.437 to ahead early in to the session though Leclerc and Verstappen were closely following behind. Alex Albon, Carlos Sainz, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg battled it out for the remaining spots trying to avoid making mistakes so that the start tomorrow is easier rather than harder in to turns one and two.
The most pole positions in Singapore is Hamilton and Vettel – four each. What a nice head to head contest under the lights in Singapore though Vettel hit the wall during his lap leaving damage to the DHL branded wall and also the inside section of his rim. Hamilton suffered with the front end and Bottas slid out as he hit the ripple strip with too much corner speed. The strategy with three minutes to go was when to exit the pit lane for a lap! Vettel was at the front, followed by Verstappen, Leclerc, Bottas and Hamilton. Things changed rapidly with Vettel not going faster and Leclerc pushing to the absolute limit. He wanted it!! Three in a row and the fifth pole position for the young Monaco driver. It was a beautiful lap and Hamilton tried to chase though just did not have the pace. Vettel went wide and he will have to stomach another performance by Leclerc that was sensational. He even lost control three times in to the lap. Hamilton found it interesting to see a Ferrari ahead of him and was curious about where they gained in pace. No doubt, we could see a Monza repeat with Leclerc and Hamilton in to the first corner. Mentally speaking, Leclerc recovered with absolute dedication after a mixed day of emotions on Friday. When the lights go out tomorrow, he will want to win again and with a smile!
|4||33||Max Verstappen||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:38.540||1:37.089||1:36.813||15|
|6||23||Alexander Albon||RED BULL RACING HONDA||1:39.106||1:37.865||1:37.411||16|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:38.882||1:37.982||1:37.818||19|
|10||4||Lando Norris||MCLAREN RENAULT||1:38.606||1:37.572||1:38.329||19|
|11||11||Sergio Perez||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:39.909||1:38.620||14|
|12||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:39.272||1:38.697||14|
|13||10||Pierre Gasly||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||1:39.085||1:38.699||12|
|14||7||Kimi Räikkönen||ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI||1:39.454||1:38.858||14|
|15||20||Kevin Magnussen||HAAS FERRARI||1:39.942||1:39.650||14|
|16||26||Daniil Kvyat||SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA||1:39.957||7|
|17||18||Lance Stroll||RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES||1:39.979||8|
|18||8||Romain Grosjean||HAAS FERRARI||1:40.277||8|
|19||63||George Russell||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:40.867||7|
|20||88||Robert Kubica||WILLIAMS MERCEDES||1:41.186||6|