Sebastian Vettel saved the best until last as he surged to his forty-ninth career pole position and his third at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, as the Scuderia Ferrari driver denied Max Verstappen his maiden pole.
Red Bull Racing had topped all three practice sessions ahead of qualifying, but Vettel found the speed when it mattered most, breaking the lap record in the process with a best time of 1:39.491s.
Vettel admitted a lot of work went on between Friday’s sessions and Saturday’s running, both trackside and at the factory, with test driver Charles Leclerc working in the simulator to assist in making positive set-up changes to the SF70H.
“Yesterday I wasn’t smiling, today I am” said Vettel. “When you belong to a team, you need to believe in each other and this is the perfect proof.
“Our Friday was messy, but our team has worked all night long and I am grateful for that. Here the guys worked all night and got to sleep around breakfast time, I believe. Meanwhile, back at the factory, Charles Leclerc worked at the simulator and other people analysed the data.
“Yesterday it seemed that we were not competitive enough and a lot of answers were missing. At the beginning of qualifying I was just thinking about doing my job. Then in Q3 I attacked, and I am very happy it worked.”
Vettel insisted it was good to turn around a difficult Friday into a strong performance for both himself and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen on Saturday, and the work done to make improvements gives the whole team some extra knowledge of what the car needs on any given day.
“For us it’s important to turn up the day. If it’s a bad day, we want to change it making it a good one because we always try to have good days,” said Vettel.
“I think yesterday was very important for us because we learnt from it. It was a hard lesson but we improved our understanding of the car and the track evolution came to us. Now we probably have a better idea what the car needs.
“There are always lessons that need to be learnt and I am quite happy that we had a bad day yesterday. We are happy we got the pole today because it always helps. But the race is tomorrow, so we’ll see what happens.”