No one really saw it coming at the start of the week, but Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari produced the goods in qualifying to claim pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix.
A Mercedes car had started P1 in the previous 23 races and Lewis Hamilton was looking for his eight consecutive pole of the season, but Merc were nowhere to be seen in qualifying and it turned into a battle between Ferrari and Red Bull.
Vettel prevailed as he posted an incredible final lap of 1:43.885 to take pole by 0.543s ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen third. Hamilton was the best-placed Merc in fifth.
In his first season with the Scuderia, Vettel can now add a pole position to the two race victories he has to his name, and he was clearly delighted afterwards.
“Unbelievable. I know it is only Saturday and the main job is tomorrow but I had to enjoy the moment,” the German said. “The car was fantastic to drive and got better through qualifying. Surprised by the margin, but it just came together.
“Around here it’s such a long and tricky lap and it’s so easy to go in too deep or a little in too far, push a little bit too much. I was very happy I made it to the finish line in the end, because it felt like a good lap and it was a good lap in the end.
“Very happy as it puts us in a great place for tomorrow, but as I said it’s only Saturday. The main job is only coming tomorrow. I’m sure the Mercedes will be quick tomorrow, everything else will be a surprise, and it’s already been a surprise [that Merc are not on pole], and Red Bulls of course. Tough job tomorrow.”