Five star Leclerc takes Singapore pole
Ferrari emerged out of the blue to storm qualifying     Credit: Will Taylor-Medhurst, Getty Images

Five star Leclerc takes Singapore pole

Charles Leclerc wrapped up his fifth pole position of the 2019 Formula 1 season with a sensational lap to send a warning shot to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes.

jaquobcrooke
Jaquob Crooke

Charles Leclerc’s scintillating form continued as the Ferrari driver dazzled under the Singapore lights to claim his third consecutive pole position.

Leclerc set a sublime 1:36:217 around the Marina Bay Circuit, just under two tenths quicker than championship leader Lewis Hamilton on a track that Ferrari had minimal expectations going into.

The result sees Leclerc now lead the table for most pole positions this season and raises serious questions as to whether Ferrari could possibly mount a late title assault in their current form.

Sebastian Vettel went fastest on the first round of runs in Q3, but had to settle for third on the grid in the second Ferrari, 0.220s off his team mate’s time after aborting his final effort. He was ahead of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, with Red Bull’s threat in qualifying failing to materialise, as the Dutchman wound up over half a second off Leclerc.

Valtteri Bottas followed in fifth with Alexander Albon securing sixth, four tenths ahead of the McLaren of Carlos Sainz.

Daniel Ricciardo secured the qualifying head-to-head at Renault as he placed his RS19 ahead of his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, with Lando Norris completing another double Q3 appearance for McLaren as he qualified in 10th.

Q1 - No Grosjean celebrations 

Romain Grosjean’s celebrations were short-lived as the Frenchman made a premature exit in qualifying.

After being retained by Haas for the 2020 season, Grosjean endured two difficult Friday sessions and his weekend failed to improve as he brushed the wall on his final lap and failed to make the cut for Q2.

There were contrasting emotions at Toro Rosso as Daniil Kvyat was a first-stage casualty whilst Pierre Gasly impressed to make it through the session.

Gasly would have been particularly pleased with his effort, however, as he set a lap time good enough for ninth place, 0.021s ahead of Albon, driving the Red Bull that Gasly campaigned in the first half of the year before his demotion to Toro Rosso.

The Williams pair of George Russell and Robert Kubica brought up the rear, despite the promising times that Russell had set across the Free Practice sessions where he had mixed amongst the Haas and Alfa Romeo drivers.

Q2 - Raikkonen hits the wall

Kimi Raikkonen’s hopes of progressing to the final stage of qualifying were dealt a blow when he slid into the wall on the exit of Turn 13.

The Finn finished 14th, below his team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi which meant that Raikkonen failed to secure the qualifying head-to-head against the Italian.

Sergio Perez, Gasly and Kevin Magnussen joined the Alfa Romeo duo, with Perez set to start tomorrow’s race from 16th following a gearbox penalty that he incurred from FP3.

Norris was one of the stars of the second segment of qualifying, the McLaren driver winding up P6, one place ahead of Albon’s Red Bull and less than a second off the fastest time, on his first ever qualifying outing in Singapore. 

That fastest time was set, in Q2, by FP3 leader Charles Leclerc, who ended up 0.070s ahead of team mate Vettel, the Ferraris over two-tenths clear of the Mercedes of Hamilton.

Q3 - Luscious Leclerc

Much to the surprise of many, Ferrari were the team to beat in Singapore.

The team’s front wing and floor upgrades appeared to have paid dividends as Leclerc stormed round the streets of Marina Bay to clinch pole position.

Initially, though, it was Vettel who looked to be the man on form, as he lapped in a 1m 36.437s on his first flying lap, 0.354s clear of Leclerc in P2.

As they wound up for the final runs, however, the onboard cameras showed Vettel failing improve on his second effort, with the German eventually pulling into the pits and leaving his rivals to duke it out and see if they could best him.

Verstappen, super-confident after a strong Friday, couldn’t do better than fourth – his lowest starting position here since 2016 – while Bottas looked scrappy in the final segment of qualifying as he ended up over nine-tenths off the pace, ahead of Albon. 

McLaren were as strong as predicted, with Sainz getting the job done for the team in P7, over two-tenths ahead of Renault’s Ricciardo, while Hulkenberg qualified in the top 10 here for the fourth time in as many years, as Norris was 10th on his Singapore qualifying debut.

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