Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Singapore, 2018

Hamilton storms to pole ahead of Verstappen in Singapore

2018 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton took pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix with a stunning lap ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

Sebastian Vettel will line up directly behind his championship rival in third, after being unable to match the Mercedes driver’s pace.

Q1

Conditions were clear and warm as the opening salvos of qualifying got underway around the Marina Bay circuit.

Kimi Raikkonen immediately set the early benchmark, posting a 1’38.534 on the Hyper Soft tyres. Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to opt for a run on the Ultra Soft compound, but was over a second off the pace of the Ferrari.

Despite concerns over the performance of the Ultra Soft tyres, Mercedes opted not to switch to the Hyper Softs. It was a gamble that only just paid off, with Hamilton only just avoiding elimination in 14th place.

After the session was over, Kevin Magnussen was the surprise casualty of the session being eliminated from qualifying in 16th place in his Haas.

Brendon Hartley was also out in 17th in his Toro Rosso, ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren who clashed with the outside wall on the exit of turn 21 on his way to 18th place.

Williams were resigned to the back row of the grid, with Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll in 19th and 20th place, respectively.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

PositionDriverTeamLap time
16Kevin MagnussenHaas1’39.644
17Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1’39.809
18Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’39.864
19Sergey SirotkinWilliams1’41.263
20Lance StrollWilliams1’41.334

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Q2

While Mercedes abandoned the Ultra Softs, Ferrari decided to send Kimi Raikkonen out on the Ultra Softs for his first run in Q2, but quickly aborted the lap after Raikkonen was unhappy with his tyre’s performance.

Raikkonen switched to the Hyper Softs and used the extra grip to good effect, lowering the fastest time of the weekend to a 1’37.1, which would prove the quickest of the session.

Sebastian Vettel’s final attempt was heavily compromised by traffic in the final sector, specifically Romain Grosjean’s Haas, meaning the Ferrari driver was over six tenths slower than his team mate.

Charles Leclerc flirted with the wall on the outside of turn 21, but reported no damage to his Sauber.

As the session concluded, Fernando Alonso only just missed on on advancing to the top ten shootout taking 11th place in his McLaren ahead of the man taking his seat next season, Carlos Sainz in teh Renault.

The two Saubers of Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson were the next to be eliminated, with Pierre Gasly the final driver to

Drivers eliminated in Q2

PositionDriverTeamLap time
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’38.641
12Carlos SainzRenault1’38.716
13Charles LeclercSauber1’38.747
14Marcus EricssonSauber1’39.453
15Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1’39.691

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Q3

The battle for pole position looked set to be a shootout between the two Ferrari drivers and Hamilton’s Mercedes.

After the first laps, it was Lewis Hamilton who took provisional pole position with a stunning laptime of 1’36.105 – by far the fastest lap of the weekend so far.

Max Verstappen was closest to the Mercedes, albeit three tenths adrift, with Vettel six tenths off his championship rival.

With drivers out to prepare for their final qualifying attempts, Mercedes were especially careful on their tyres on their outlaps.

Hamilton’s attempt to improve on his provisional pole time came undone at turn seven, running wide and onto the kerb and abandoning his lap.

Vettel went fastest of all in the first sector, but was unable to keep that momentum for the remainder of the lap and could not better third place on the grid.

Verstappen was the final driver with an opportunity to usurp Hamilton, but the Red Bull could not find a way to improve, handing pole position to Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas lines up fourth on the grid, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Daniel Ricciardo will start sixth, a second faster than Sergio Perez’s Force India.

Romain Grosjean, Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten on the grid.

Top ten in Q3

PositionDriverTeamLap time
1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’36.015
2Max VerstappenRed Bull1’36.334
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’36.628
4Valtteri BottasMercedes1’36.702
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’36.794
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’36.996
7Sergio PerezForce India1’37.985
8Romain GrosjeanHaas1’38.320
9Esteban OconForce India1’38.365
10Nico HulkenbergRenault1’38.588

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2018 Singapore Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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101 comments on “Hamilton storms to pole ahead of Verstappen in Singapore”

    1. Wooooooooow!!

      Where did that come from?!

      Ferarri started the session by blitzing everyone, then they changed their floor, with the battery problems as the excuse for that. This makes me wonder if they thought better or running with an illegal floor.

      Suddenly everyone else is so much closer to them, Red Bull included. The real shock is that no one was expecting Mercedes to be in the top four. Strickly speaking Mercedes should have qualified where Bottas finished (no pun).

      Once again Hamilton gets them there. Once again the preassure is on Vettel to come up with the answer.

      ‘Well done Lewis get in there’ !-)

      1. Lewis is an amazing driver, no doubt arguably better than Vettel this season. It gets harder every week to defend my “under-performing” team and drivers.

        I’m actually wondering whether the problem is the Ferrari or Vettel and Kimi. I say this because of Bottas. The guy was nowhere this weekend, now all of a sudden, we’re behind him. And also, the Team as a whole, suddenly went from the fastest to the third fastest on average out of nowhere.

        1. If Vettel is barely faster than Kimi, you know where the problem is.

  1. That lap from Hamilton more or less confirms Verstappen won’t be the youngest ever pole sitter. It’s ironic that he looked to be three times, and all times he was beaten by a perfect lap. It happens.

    1. The horsepower deficit is just too big. Max says 75

      1. You new to F1? This Singapore. Power doesn’t matter too much at these type of circuits. Like Monaco, where RIC was down on Horsepower coz of mechanical issues, yet he still managed to win comfortably.

        1. This is not Monaco. Sure, power is less important. But topspeed difference of 20k means something. Look where RIC is against Bottas, same gap.

          And RIC wasn’t overtaken in Monaco because you can’t overtake there plus everyone was managing tyres.

          1. In Singapore engine grunt is less critical by your own admission. In Monaco, Ricciardo finished an easy 7 seconds ahead of Vettel despite an MGU-K failure worth up to 160bhp. Go figure!

          2. Singapore is a maximum downforce track. Red Bull will never hurt for aero performance once Newey is still there & I doubt any serious F1 fan would deny that the Red Bulls have downforce in spades… more than any other team. Therefore, IMO, you can’t go giving credit to Max while simultaneously taking credit away from Lewis, citing the power advantage of the Mercedes while conveniently ignoring Red Bulls aero advantage (if you intend to be sensible & fair in your comparison). You’ll lose that debate all day.

        2. It’s not only top speed, it’s also the acceleration that is better slightly given that the car has more grunt and can run a quality mode. All that means a lot, even if there are not so many straights. Just look at Danny Ric’s time, almost a second off Hamiltons time, and he’s usually great on this track. That should say something of Max’s lap

        3. Quali is all about power and drivabilty and both aspects is where the merc shines. A faster acceleration from the corner and higher topspeed counts everywhere. And of course the option to increase the downforce without speed penalty. So yes albeit the impact is less there still is a big advantage.

      2. @anunaki, the problem is that Red Bull, as a team, have a history of routinely exaggerating supposed power differences in order to make their chassis look more impressive.

        For example, during the V8 era they regularly claimed that the power difference was around two to three times larger than what independent researchers at the University of Cologne demonstrated it to be.

        I am also aware that there was an individual who claimed to be connected with Honda’s engine development team who also suggested that, over the past few years, that Red Bull were again overstating the difference in peak power between the Renault engine and those of Mercedes and Ferrari, again suggesting that Red Bull were overstating the power difference by around a factor of two, if not more.

        Whilst Renault do seem to be behind in terms of peak power, given the usual margin that Red Bull have overexaggerated the power difference by, I’d suggest that you should be roughly halving Max’s claimed deficit to get something that is more likely to be closer to the mark.

        1. Subjective reports about the power deficit, bases on race data say Mercedes and Ferrari are about 10 hp apart, Ferrari being ahead. RBR is down around 70 hp to Ferrari while Honda is at the bottom being about 90 hp down.

          RBR can claim anything they like, but is seems they are in line with the objective reports.

    2. He can still do it, I think. But he’s quickly running out of time.

  2. Speechless! Vettel looked spooked and I don’t blame him.
    What. A. Lap.

    1. I think Vettel knew he had the car for pole today. His first lap wasn’t great and final run was scruffy. Faster in sector 1 he really should have been closer than 6 tenths today. Ferrari were poor with their track position but Vettel needed to do more.

      1. Ferrari was quicker in sector 1 all weekend though, sectors 2/3 the Merc had looked good. Ferrari was 2mph quicker in the speed trap than anyone else so I’m wondering if they went more for top speed on the setup.

    2. Not such a fantastic lap, VET could have had pole but he blew it… again.
      Time for Ferrari to start looking towards next year.

  3. Perfection from Hamilton today. He doesn’t do that every weekend but when he lines everything up he really is unbeatable. He’s the only driver in recent years who’ve shocked me with their laptimes.

    1. Very true. I am still shocked at how he pulled out that laptime. Mega lap absolutely untouchable.

    2. Ain’t that the truth. The only time I find myself shocked after qualifying is when Lewis pulls out one of his magic laps.

    3. Does it often enough

  4. As usual Hamilton did a mega job…but Max too gave a good effort. Probably Vettel left some time on the track. 2019 would be the perfect time for Ferrari to consider a new driver.

  5. Wow wow and just wow. That was some surprise.

    That was a Lewis special. Thats the reason he gets the big bucks. The commentators (Di resta, Brundle, Crofty) were just stunned. All weekend Mercedes was looking at 2nd row and Hamilton goes there and absolutely smashes it. Max another super performance. Like Lewis, he destroyed his teammate.

    1. Max another super performance. Like Lewis, he destroyed his teammate.

      Not so sure about that. For the last races of 2018 Red Bull don’t have any good reason to give Ric a good car, and actually they have a couple of “good” reasons to give him a brick.

      1. Yeah… keep telling yourself that…

      2. Sure. Max is owning him 14 against 3 (something like that).

      3. You do realize Ricciardo is now been beaten 12-1 ?
        Q1, 2 and 3 together, for what it’s worth 32 – 6, Ricciardo is just 1 quali ahead on Vandoorne

        At RBR there’s no quali battle anymore, we just wonder how big the difference will be in the next quali

        1. They are already excluding Ricciardo for the important meetings, so you can only expect the grap to grow bigger.

          1. Not until now…don’t tell lies.

          2. You shouldn’t call me a liar without even knowing me, pal.
            I didn’t specified when they started doing it.

          3. Those meetings are about the future of the development not about daily race business. Even ric states there is no difference in treatment. So accept the situation.

          4. Yeah, like they don’t use a season they have nothing else to do to test new solutions for next year.
            Keep dreaming.

      4. And they poisoned ricciardo with novichock and horner has wmd that can hit london in 45 minutes and his brother lives at area51 in illuminatistreet.

        Or perhaps max is actually faster in the same car.

  6. That lap from Verstappen was incredible.

    Maybe lap of the year.

    0.6 ahead of Ricciardo who is very strong in Singapore, only 0.3 behind Hammy who is in the much faster car.

    Btw, time for Mercedes to stop talking themselves down. They have a very fast car.

    1. Mercedes hadn’t expected this lap from Hamilton – I do agree Max did a great lap too, but please, also just acknowledge that Lewis had a great one too. I think Ferrari got it wrong (Vettel with a lock-up, at the least), or they should have been faster.

      1. According to Vettel, it was team put him on track at the wrong time… you know if he did better, it would be him, but when he is down, it is someone messing his lap be it teammate, be it team letting him out at wrong time or someone else maybe air pressure on his rear right was 0.5 psi lower…. who knows?

      2. Good lap from Hammy, but Verstappen’s was better given the Red Bull is the third best car by a wide margin.

        Mercedes have the best car at the moment.

        1. First fish is out. Let’s see next “Mercedes is the best car” comment

          1. Difficult to tell the anon fish apart, but this one has a distinctive ‘Hammy’ stripe at least.

          2. Looking at the constructors championship and including bottas…Merc surely has the fastest car on average over all circuits.

            Still Hamilton is a truly great driver. I bet Lewis wants to race max in the same car. a champion like him would need to know. I think max and Lewis are on par in terms of raw speed … and it would be great to watch.

            0.3 behind Lewis in a Merc is truly impressive. Vettel will be a danger in turn 1. He needs to do something and it will likely not end well.

        2. Red Bull at Singapore is a match for anyone. Even with that very weak car of 2015 Ricciardo pushed Vettel until the very end.
          When engines were leveled, Vettel won races than with enormous gaps to the other drivers, specially on ’13.

          Verstappen did great because he had the car to it, so did Hamilton.

        3. […] given the Red Bull is the third best car by a wide margin.

          Uhh… You saw FP2, yes?

    2. Don’t you think that where BOT is maybe where Merc actually is? Glad to see Hamilton made your afternoon.

      1. The again Ricciardo is two positions and nearly 0.3 sec down on Bottas….

        1. Look the gap between team mates. Bottas to Hamilton is larger than Ric to Verstappen

          1. Ricciardo is a better driver than Bottas. Bottas was barely quicker than Massa. Ricciardo blew Vettel away.

    3. @Anon- come off it. Merc have the much faster car but not in Singapore.

  7. Suddenly Mercedes’ party mode restored on Hamilton’s car after missing since Australia.

      1. Ham was flying in from a party anyway, so it didn’t excite him as much :)

  8. That’s VET championship shattered. Being a Ferrari fan is a test of patience and new-lows.

  9. The live timing app is ruined! It’s useless!

    Started a chat with F1 through the app right after qualifying to complain. She’ll pass on the complaint.

    Let’s complain as much as possible. Preferably throug the app (Help > Get in touch > Chat)

    1. David (@billyboltaction)
      15th September 2018, 15:57

      I run it on my ipad and haven’t updated it so it’s still the old version and it works perfectly. If anyone out there has yet to update, don’t! The old version currently still works.

    2. Where’s the chat? I tried in the “get in touch” area but can’t find any chat

    3. And to get even worse, it doesn’t work on my phone anymore.

    4. Boy… you got that right.

      Changed my review on Google Play Store (a lot of negative reviews being posted).

      Been looking, with no success, how to roll it back to an old version.

  10. I hope Max/Sen both keep it clean tomorrow. Don’t mind max/seb overtaking any three but crashing out before/at the first corner will be pure disgusting. No matter whose fault it ‘ll be.

    1. I’m 100% with you here, but I have a strong feeling that we’re going to be sorely disappointed…

      1. I m just hoping we won’t be surprised. But max being agitated always edgy and Vettel under pressure, something bound to happen even the spectators were laughing that max being in front of Vettel, and last year’s first corner come to their mind…

        Hopefully this time it will be clean and no surprises like last year?

    2. My exact same thought when I saw P1, P2, & P3.

      My prayer is that whatever happens, LH can avoid it and get out ahead.

      But with those other 2, anything is possible.

      1. My prayers too, but you can never know at “first lap” and “tyres were cold” i missed braking point issues… you know some drivers have had this excuses for a while now…

        For many, crashes are entertaining, but i hate it as we miss out on real racing to see who can really do what, people just keep saying oh championship is decided due to this accident or that failure and what not…

  11. Max was having engine troubles during his quickest Q3 run. The engine hold back while shifting up….. just wow

    1. My god, what a lap. Imagine what he’d do in a Mercedes or Ferrari.

      1. My God, how sour some people can get against Mercedes/Ham and attribute every win to car but loses to driver! If anyone downplays their car is Red bull they the best aero package where this track requires. Yes their car is not as reliable but Damn they were with Mercedes in a power track like Monza! Where did that power come from?

        1. Max was 1,3 sec behind Lewis in Monza

          1. Max was ahead of Bottas, and yeah his power was not top notch but it was enough to keep bottas behind?

          2. Max was behind Bottas by a full second in Monza

            Max overtook Bottas early in the race because Max is a better racer than Bottas.

      2. Perhaps is Max demonstrates over a significant run of races that he is able to bring his undoubted pace without stupid incidents, accidents and a childish attitude, he may one day be considered for a drive with Mercedes or Ferrari.

        It’s some way off yet as he still appears to have a great deal of maturing to do, but if he can consistently utilize his potential and keep his emotions under control, he has great potential.

        Doubt anyone in history could have got that Merc around that track quicker that Hamilton today. Mindblowing.

      3. If something, that means Red Bull was faster than Mercedes at this track but something hold them from pole. Same thing with Ferrari.

        But when Hamilton drops it on the floor like he did today, it’s because he has the best car….lol.

        He certainly does the best work together with his team. That’s the ultimate truth.

    2. Max would’ve been 1’35.x without that engine trouble, what a wasted chance.

      1. I’m sorry but that is just pure rubbish.

  12. Both Lewis and Max were something special today. Both of them not in a car that’s supposed to be front row material. They both deserve credit. Seb is found wanting.

  13. Two magical moments today: Lewis and Max. Guess Mercedes will contract Max at the first opporunity possible.

    1. not if max takes ham out at t1!!!

    2. not if max takes out ham at t1!!

        1. You got me there, lol.

          1. Or Honda will pay max a good chunk, and he will stay at RedBull

  14. After Q2 I didn’t think a 36.0 was possible by anyone… definitely didn’t think a Mercedes could do it. Beast of a lap.

  15. Nearly 3.5 seconds faster than twelve months ago. I expected nowhere near this much improvement on last season in ultimate lap time. Even more significant than at Circuit de Catalunya despite that circuit having been resurfaced before this season’s race weekend.

  16. Toto was right, Lewis was magical today. I think the unity in the team allows him to focus beautifully, Bottas has been a godsend. In over forty years of following and supporting F1, I’ve not seen a better racer. His hardware choices over the next few years will determine whether he takes Michael’s remaining records, but it would bizarre to deny his dominance.

  17. Dayum! What a lap. Lewis must be eating some strong vegan Brocoli or whatever.

    He is so good under pressure this year. To then deliver such a lap… Crazy.

    1. it seemed a mega lap and he seemed so light… that must have been hell of a vegan diet!

  18. Hamilton continues to be a thorn in Ferrari’s side. The other thorn is Ferrari itself.

  19. Lap by the gods!!! Magisterial!

  20. Ham is well and truly in the conversation with regards to ‘greatest of all time’. Incredible.

    1. Well certainly he is the greatest qualifier of all time.

      1. Senna was better.

        Rosberg beat Hammy 11-8 in qualifying in 2014.

    2. Agreed. Since he was 11 years old and told Ron he was going to drive for his team one day. Lewis is special. Legend like Vettel.

  21. Lewis is at the place were I start to say he’s one of the special legends of formula 1. There are many legends of f1 but there have only been about 4 special legends. Ayrton and Lewis are 2. They just do stuff on the regular that make you say how did they do that. This was one of those. Vettel is saying I’m sure that time was beatable but he didn’t beat it. It’s more than having the speed. It’s about what you know and have learned that allow you to Conquer issues like today and get it done like lewis

    1. Curiously, watching Lewis makes me wonder what Gilles Villeneuve might have achieved.

  22. I think people are going off the deep end with this Max being the next Senna crap that they forget Red Bull is the most dominant car on this track due to Newy downforce. Best driver with this downforce has been Vettel.

  23. Verstappen or Perez lap on a Ferrari would been pole easily

  24. YellowSubmarine
    16th September 2018, 2:41

    I’m just happy to be alive and watching formula 1 at this time in the sport’s history.
    That was a lap from the gods.
    Qualifying is not the race, but man, what a scorcher.
    Ferrari have the fastest car – but Mercedes have Lewis Hamilton.
    What a driver!
    What. A. Lap!

    1. “Ferrari have the fastest car – but Mercedes have Lewis Hamilton.”

      ‘Nuff said!

  25. Amazing weekend from Lewis. Some top athletes seem incapable of closing the deal when it matters but Lewis can right now. Who wouldn’t want to have his talent?

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