(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

SINGAPORE – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel showed why he is the Singapore Grand Prix’s most successful driver by claiming pole position – for the fourth time – after Saturday’s (Sept 16) qualifying session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit in a new track record of 1min 39.491sec.

The German had been outpaced by his rivals right up to the third qualifying session, but proved his class when it mattered most. His pole lap was 3.1 seconds faster than last year’s effort by retired world champion Nico Rosberg (1:42.584).

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen will start second on Sunday (1:39.814), missing out on becoming Formula One’s first teenage pole sitter, with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo (1:39.840) just behind him.

Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen (1:40.069) rounded off the second row of the grid.

Crucially for Vettel, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, who leads him by three points in the drivers’ championship on 238, will start fifth (1:40.126) with Valtteri Bottas (1:40.810) in sixth.

With overtaking chances hard to come by on a tight and winding track that features the most corners (23) on the calendar, pole sitters have traditionally enjoyed a distinct advantage in Singapore.

Seven of the nine previous Singapore GP pole sitters went on to win the race, with only Felipe Massa (2008) and current championship leader Hamilton (2012) failing to secure victory after both suffered retirements.

Said Vettel: “I shouted as loud as the fans it was unbelievable. I’m still full of adrenaline. The car was amazing.

“I love this track. The car came alive on the track and it was getting better and better as the night went on.”

Turning his attention to Sunday’s race, where he will attempt to win the race for the fifth time in 10 editions, he said: “Tomorrow is a long race. These guys (Red Bull) are quick. It will be very close.”

The two Red Bulls went 1-2 in the first qualifying session (Q1), with only 0.053sec separating Verstappen (1:42.010) from Ricciardo (1:42.063). McLaren’s Fernando Alonso (1:42.086) was third, building on a strong practice session earlier in the day.

Times in the first half of the session were slower, with drivers having to account for an oil spill at Turn 20 that had happened in the earlier Porsche Carrera Cup race, especially the Mercedes and Ferrari pairs.

But the normal order of things resumed in Q2, with the top four spots going to Red Bull and Ferrari. Red Bull went 1-2 again, with Verstappen (1:40.332) fastest and Ricciardo right behind him in 1:40.385. Raikkonen (1:40.525) was third and Vettel (1:40.529) fourth.

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