Sebastian Vettel dominated qualifying in Singapore to take his first pole position as a Scuderia Ferrari driver, while Mercedes continued to struggle.
The battle for pole eventually went down to a tussle between Ferrari and Infiniti Red Bull Racing, but it was Vettel who took top spot for his first pole position since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, and Ferrari’s first since Germany in 2012.
Vettel’s time of 1m43.885s was more than half a second clear of the rest of the field, with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo having his best qualifying session of the season to finish second fastest.
Kimi Raikkonen could not match his Ferrari team-mate in third, finishing 0.782s back, while Daniil Kvyat took fourth in the second Red Bull, and was the final driver to get within one second of Vettel’s pole time.
The Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team’s off-key weekend continued, with Lewis Hamilton unable to continue his run of seven consecutive pole positions, qualifying fifth, 1.415s back on Vettel, while team-mate Nico Rosberg was sixth, a further 0.130s back on Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas will start seventh for Williams Martini Racing, having sneaked into the top ten shoot-out when Carlos Sainz Jr caused a late yellow flag when the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver hit the wall and left debris on the track, ruining the lap times of many drivers, with the Spaniard crabbing back to the pits with a broken suspension.
Max Verstappen qualified eighth in the second Toro Rosso despite a wild final corner on his quick lap, while the second Williams of Felipe Massa beat Lotus F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean for ninth in the closing seconds.
Nico Hulkenberg was the first driver to be eliminated in Q2, ending eleventh for Sahara Force India ahead of a slightly disappointed Fernando Alonso, who could not match his final free practice effort of seventh in qualifying, with the McLaren-Honda driver one of those affected by Sainz’s issues.
Sainz himself will start fourteenth behind the second Force India of Sergio Perez, while Jenson Button in the second McLaren scrapped through in Q2 ahead of the two Sauber F1 Team drivers, with Button set to start fifteenth as a result.
Despite bringing an upgraded package to Singapore, both Sauber’s were eliminated in Q1, with Felipe Nasr just ahead of Marcus Ericsson, while Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado also saw his qualifying ended early, with the Venezuelan starting down in eighteenth.
As expected, the two Manor F1 Team drivers were at the back and well off the pace, with Will Stevens qualifying ahead of debutant Alexander Rossi, meaning their respective gearbox penalties will not affect the starting order on Sunday.
Singapore Qualifying Times
|2||3||Daniel Ricciardo||AUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m44.428s|
|4||26||Daniil Kvyat||RUS||Red Bull-Renault||1m44.745s|
|8||33||Max Verstappen||NED||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m45.798s|
|-||-||Eliminated in Q2||-||-||-|
|11||27||Nico Hulkenberg||GER||Force India-Mercedes||1m46.305s|
|13||11||Sergio Perez||MEX||Force India-Mercedes||1m46.385s|
|14||55||Carlos Sainz Jr||ESP||Toro Rosso-Renault||1m46.894s|
|-||-||Eliminated in Q1||-||-||-|