F1 – Singapore GP – Qualifying
The darkness of Singapore provided the atmosphere for what would turn out to be an intense qualifying session.
Qualifying session one was worrying for Lewis Hamilton fans. The British driver didn’t set a lap on the hyper soft tyres – instead opting for the ultra softs. He only just squeezed through into Q2 after ending up 14th in what must have been a tense last few moments for him. Daniel Ricciardo topped the session ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. The drivers to drop out were Kevin Magnussen (16th), Brendon Hartley (17th) and Stoffel Vandoorne (18th). Meanwhile, the two Williams cars were utterly dismal. Sergey Sirotkin (19th) was 1.399 seconds off Vandoorne. Lance Stroll (20th) was a further 0.071 seconds behind.
In qualifying session two, the major moment was Vettel getting held up by traffic on his hot lap. He was still able to safely navigate his way through to the final session though, ending up 6th. Raikkonen topped the session ahead of a resurgent Max Verstappen who’d had a poor practice this morning, and Valtteri Bottas 3rd. The drivers to drop out were; Fernando Alonso (11th), Carlos Sainz (12th), Charles Leclerc (13th), Marcus Ericsson (14th) and Pierre Gasly (15th).
The first runs in qualifying three saw Lewis Hamilton pump in a mesmerising 1:36.015 second lap. Despite everyone’s best efforts, it was pretty clear that time would be good enough for pole. That lap is a huge 9.666 seconds quicker than this session in 2014 during the hybrid power unit’s inaugural season. Phenomenal. Verstappen concluded the session in 2nd place with Vettel third. Bottas will be 4th, whereas Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo will be disappointed with 5th & 6th respectively. Sergio Perez wins “best of the rest” with 7th place and Romain Grosjean will be 8th. Esteban Ocon will start physically behind his team mate in 9th while Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10 for Renault.
With Lewis Hamilton 30 points ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the title battle, and starting ahead here – where it’s extremely difficult to overtake – is the championship as good as over? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.