17 September 2017Hot off the Press
Sebastian Vettel set a blistering lap time during qualifying at Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit to secure pole position for Sunday’s race. Vettel’s time of 1:39.491 is over three seconds faster than Nico Rosberg’s pole-setting time in 2016.
Although there was speculation that Red Bull would dominate the weekend, Vettel took his fourth pole position at Singapore. Vettel’s time was achieved, despite flirting with the wall on his record-setting lap.
Joining Vettel on the front row of the grid is the Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who was denied his first pole position by just over three-tenths of a second. Verstappen set the fastest laps in Q1 and Q2, and apart from a small mistake in Q3, drove a remarkably consistent qualifying session.
Daniel Ricciardo will start third in the second Red Bull, after a similarly-consistent session, coming in only 0.026 seconds behind his teammate. Starting alongside him in fourth is the Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen, who was the first driver on the track in all three sessions.
The next row was locked out by Mercedes, with Lewis Hamilton qualifying ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Both drivers appeared to struggle compared to Ferrari and Red Bull, although Hamilton was hot on the heels of Räikkönen. Bottas, however, was over half a second slower than his teammate.
Nico Hülkenberg was close behind Bottas, yet again getting his Renault into Q3 and securing an impressive seventh. A pleasant surprise was the Q3 appearance of the McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne, who managed to qualify eighth and ninth in a season mired in mechanical issues. The Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz rounded out the top 10, who performed well in both Q1 and Q2.
Jolyon Palmer narrowly missed out on making it through to Q3 in his Renault, taking 11th ahead of the Force India of Sergio Pérez. Although a plume of smoke was seen coming from the rear of Daniil Kvyat’s Toro Rosso early on in qualifying, he claimed 13th ahead of the second Force India of Esteban Ocon.
15th went to Romain Grosjean (Haas), despite an early spin and a brush with the wall in Q1 that brought out yellow flags. Starting alongside him will be his teammate Kevin Magnussen. Behind them are the Williamses of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll. Massa hit the wall in Q1, resulting in a puncture and a broken wheel, and although the Williams garage was able to get him back out he was unable to improve his time.
Bringing up the rear are the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson in 19th and 20th. Ericsson crashed into the wall in the third practice session earlier in the day, causing significant damage to the rear of his car and requiring an unscheduled gearbox change. As a result, he is expected to incur a five-place grid penalty, and would likely have started from the back regardless.