Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Singapore, 2019

Leclerc takes Singapore pole from Vettel with final lap

2019 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc took pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix away from his team mate Sebastian Vettel with the final lap of qualifying.

Vettel aborted his final run in Q3 which let Lewis Hamilton in to bump him off the front row to third position. He will share the second row of the grid with Max Verstappen.


At first it seemed Mercedes had rediscovered the advantage they had at the end of practice yesterday. They ran soft tyres at the beginning of Q1, which allowed Leclerc to out-pacve them on softs.

But when Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas took to the track on softs later in Q1 and moved to the top of the times it seemed normal service had been resumed.

Behind them the contest to escape the drop zone was as close as ever. Williams’s George Russell had shown good pace in practice but hopes he might finally get one of their cars into Q2 were dashed. He apologised to the team on his way into the pits.

Lance Stroll dropped out in Q1 once again after a late improvement from his team mate Sergio Perez. Kevin Magnussen narrowly scraped into Q2 as well, leaving Romain Grosjean behind in the other Haas.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’39.957
17Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’39.979
18Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’40.277
19George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’40.867
20Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’41.186

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The second phase of qualifying was a straightforward affair. The Mercedes, Ferraris and Red Bulls easily claimed their places in Q3 with their soft tyre tyres. McLaren and Renault bagged the next four places on their first runs.

That left Sergio Perez, Antonio Giovinazzi, Pierre Gasly, Kimi Raikkonen and Kevin Magnussen in the drop zone ahead of the final runs. None of them were able to find enough time to grab a place in the top 10.

Perez incurred a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change during practice, which means his 11th place will go to Giovinazzi.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’38.620
12Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’38.697
13Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’38.699
14Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’38.858
15Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’39.650

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Leclerc lost time picking his way past the McLaren drivers during his out-lap at the beginning of Q3. The Mercedes drivers also had compromised out-laps, and as a result the three drivers all delivered sub-par first efforts.

Vettel, meanwhile, had a strip of track to himself and delivered a peach of a lap. A 1’36.437 put him on provisional pole position, and to begin with only his team mate could get within a second of him.

His final effort, however, was unsuccessful. Vettel aborted his run, leaving him vulnerable to his rivals. Leclerc was the first to take advantage. With the benefit of a clean out-lap he beat Vettel’s time by two tenths of a second.

The Mercedes, surprisingly, couldn’t match the pace of the revitalised Ferraris. But a superb run through the final sector, where he’s been quick all weekend, edged Hamilton ahead of Vettel to claim a front row spot alongside Leclerc.

Verstappen also fell short, over half a second behind in fourth place. Bottas and Albon were well down on their team mates, and will share the third row of the grid.

Sainz was the only one of the McLaren drivers to beat the Renaults. Following his strong showing in Q2, Norris slipped to 10th on the grid.

Top ten in Q3

1Charles LeclercFerrari1’36.217
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’36.408
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’36.437
4Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’36.813
5Valtteri BottasMercedes1’37.146
6Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’37.411
7Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’37.818
8Daniel RicciardoRenault1’38.095
9Nico HulkenbergRenault1’38.264
10Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’38.329

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2019 Singapore Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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75 comments on “Leclerc takes Singapore pole from Vettel with final lap”

  1. Let the battle from Monza resume. Bottas is an absolute disappointment again.

    1. It could cost Merc in 2020 that’s for sure. Shame if it happens.

    2. This monza stuff about Bottas is just silly. He in the end did better than Hamilton. Hamilton doing an “incredible job” of staying that close to Leclerc for so long (therefore ruining his tyres) resulted in Bottas beating him. And again today, Bottas didn’t show to be lacking pace. You can most certainly blame him but he did look to be on good form and just made a mistake in the middle sector. But pace wise, he only looked marginally slower than Hamilton, which is different to the past 2 years at Singapore. Mistakes in Qualifying sometimes Happen. If Hamilton had his scruffy lap in Spain elsewhere where other teams were close to Mercedes, he would have likely been a several positions behind Bottas.

      1. I mean the entire season has been a disappointment. Not just Monza. Or is it just him not having confidence. Mercedes should have signed him for 2 years in order to boost his confidence.

        1. I don’t really understand this. I think that despite his crash in germany, this has been his best season against Hamilton. He has on average been incredibly close in qualifying and has at least had 2 wins. And Hamilton usually just is that good that once he is infront, Bottas can’t find a way by, but I can’t say that is disappointing. Canada and France, were disappointing pace wise. Hungary too but more for his first lap mistake. But we can’t really say that Hamilton ahs been error free either when you look at Austria and Germany. And whenever Bottas has been ahead, Australia, Baku and the first stage in Britain, hamilton doesn’t seem to be able to find a way by. I thought the first stage of the british GP which wasn’t really that long ago, bottas was really impressive. He again didn’t have the pace compared to Hamilton, but his defence was excellent and it was only really strategy and the safety car that resulted in Hamilton beating him.

          Hamilton is no doubt far better, but i can’t see how the whole season has been disappointing. Even since resigning which the last 2 years was when Bottas seemed to go backwards, Hamilton has only scored 1 more point than him – and that is only because of this fastest lap points thing which many dislike. Overall, he isn’t doing badly at all given who he is up against.

          Today is the only time this year in qualifying he been anywhere close to this distance off Hamilton. it is unlikely to continue. He usually seems to be under a tenth away.

          1. @thegianthogweed

            +1 I agree, I really don’t think he has been doing too bad at all. I think people are quick to have a go at him as he can’t beat Hamilton – which lets be honest is a crazy hard challenge. Strangely, I think the best thing for Bottas’ reputation would have been him leaving Mercedes for another team, as I think he would beat most drivers he was put up against

      2. @thegianthogweed

        He in the end did better than Hamilton. Hamilton doing an “incredible job” of staying that close to Leclerc for so long (therefore ruining his tyres) resulted in Bottas beating him.

        That’s really suspect revisionism i’m afraid. On another day, Leclerc would have been penalized for shoving HAM off track and the pressure would have paid off. And Hamilton basically let Bottas past to have a go at Leclecr after Leclerc (and the stewards) had blocked his efforts. Which he singly failed to do, messing up the one time he got close. Teams want to see that kind of pressure being applied, nobody, nobody, is interested in the fact Bottas eventually finished one place ahead. Trying to pass this off as a better performance by Bottas is nonsensical.

        1. But on this day which is what i am talking about, they did not punish Leclerc. There is no point changing anything now it has happened.

          Hamilton didn’t just let Bottas by, Bottas was close behind him for a while, then he actually locked up. It would be strange to suggest he locked up and cut the corner to allow Bottas through. He could have let Bottas by in a less costly way, but as he didn’t do this instantly, how did we know for certain that he would at all? It looked to me that it was simply his mistake that allowed Bottas through. Bottas was nothing that special that race and didn’t have the same pace as Hamilton, but Bottas still looked quick and did in the end beat him and it was because of Hamilton’s decision to run close to leclerc the whole time, when he could have hung back and saved his tyres and got a better result. I know that 2 points won’t matter at all to him and it was worth trying, but I still fail to see how it isn’t the case that in the end, Bottas did slightly better – because of Hamilton’s mistake. And no, it wasn’t exactly a better performance, but Hamilton’s performance had negative consequences and that is my point.

      3. @thegianthogweed

        In a close championship Id like to think Hamilton would have settled for second. I think someone else mentioned if he’d got past, Leclerc had the aero to possibly retake him anyway.
        Although leclerc was also managing tires

    3. @krichelle
      no not a disappointment. It is clear that hes just not top tier like Ham, Lec, Ver, Vet. He is where he normally is, behind Ham.

      1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend Still holding out for Vet in that top tier? Then it follows you should include Bot…

        1. Well Vettel has been right at the top at times, btu doesn’t seem to be any more, at least at the moment. Leclerc hasn’t been great for long enough to be considered top tier. He has made mistakes and binned it twice which is more than Bottas. Verstappen also has made a silly mistake recently, but before that was certainly the best driver this year. Currently averaged out over the last few years, the top drivers that are still on the grid are just Hamilton and Verstappen I’d say.

        2. @psynrg
          errrmm, sure okay buddy. Bottas is in the same level as Vettel then. Great, thank you for your contribution…

          1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend You got it the wrong way round pal/friend/mate. Vettel’s about on the level of Bottas. With much sincere gratitude for your benefaction.

      2. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

        Oh what a difference a car makes. Riccairdo was described as the best overtaker in F1, just a couple of years ago.
        So yes it’s very disappointing Merc wouldn’t sign him. I reckon Lewis had something to do with it having already been outraced by Dan in his slower Red Bull several times.

  2. I need to stop listening to the media and the comment section experts. Ferrari silenced them all today.
    Leclerc; the driver with the most pole position this year so far! How crazy is that.

    1. @carbon_fibre There engine is an absoloute monster in qually with full power especially in Leclerc’s hands it also looks like they know have downforce. Tbh this race here is the only suprise ferrari pole really. In the races Merc seem to have alot moe pace but it is hard to pass a ferrari on track.

      1. I wonder if the real difference is qualifying setup by Ferrari, vs race setup by Mercedes.

        Ferrari may have gambled on a qualifying setup, knowing if they get pole, its difficult to over-take on this circuit.

        1. This is a more likely to be real situation rather than the monster engine. At Monza, Mercedes/HAM was actually faster than Leclerc, it was the track position and the fact that HAM couldn’t get ahead of LEC that determined the winner. So, if Ferrari has indeed the best PU, it’s marginally better than Mercedes.

          1. All teams noticed on the on track data form recent races that the Ferrari engine is capable of about 25Bhp extra for a short time. Above the quali setting.
            There is speculation (he, its F1) that Ferrari is capable of boosting the engine on the edge of legality .

          2. @mg1982

            Too true.
            We need to stop this talk of Ferrari having a better car just because it’s Merc/Lewis getting beaten by such a fine margin.
            I noticed there’s always excuses for Merc, like with their cooling problem allowing Max to win. Well how about they make compromises and change their car to the same as other teams. Maybe they could run a higher rake like Red Bull then copy RB’s cooling. But they wont, because they’re happy with their own development path that offers them advantages elsewhere. So tough luck in these races where they lose their dominance. If Lewis is really the GOAT he should have no trouble whatsoever beating Leclerc with fine margins.

    2. Ferrari silenced them all today. Indeed they are. Leclerc is the new king on a single lap.

      1. Leclerc is the new king on a single lap.

        Calm down, it’s only been 3 races and 2 of those were expected to favour Ferrari anyway. Leclerc is driving brilliantly but let’s see if he can sustain that in the face of challenges from Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel (if he can get his ducks in a row).

        1. @blazzz

          Please be fair. Lewis earnt his reputation of ‘king of qualifying’ in the best cars. More recently the best advantage by far, probably in history

          1. Like it or not Lewis’ records will stand the test of time better than your opinions. Tough for you, but there it is.

      2. Yes, Indeed. Only another 82 to go to really cement his position as pole king.

  3. I thought Ferrari had no pace / downforce in the corners. Can anyone account for their newly found pace?

    I read something about the new leading edges ferrari were were adopting for their front wings, but is this the only reason for their extra pace?

    1. They copid Merc front wing desing i heard

      1. They just add some element on the nose which is somewhat similar to merc in 2017. They still retain their original 2019 front wing design if you look closely

    2. They have an updated floor and diffuser as well

    3. We must for the race before judging because this season the Mercedes- Hamilton package has been the class regardless of what track. I would not be surprised if Hamilton keeps on Leclerc’s tail for the entire race, just like Vettel did to Alonso in 2010. Of course, that depends on how they come out of the first sector tomorrow. But Leclerc is just the man..

      1. Roses are red, Violets are blue, Hamilton leading championship, Leclerc sweeping 2nd half poles and wins.
        Now Ferrari attempting Mercedes’s 2017 approach, using engine power to qualified on pole and lead the race in front like a bus.

    4. I was thinking about strategy, and the only plus i can see is Bottas. He could impead / slow the Ferrrari if they stop first, and end up behind him. This might allow Hamilton to get the jump with a later stop.

      Otherwise this race will be about who keeps their nerve.

    5. This track is more about mechanical grip than aero grip, and that updated Ferrari has good traction.

  4. Oh yes that Ferrari is really slow….

    3 consecutive pole positions and likely 3rd consecutive victory tomorrow and people make it like Ferrari is way off the pace. Always knew it was Ferrari drivers who didnt get the most out of it in the first half of the season and now the Ferrari drivers have improved a lot especially Leclerc. Also that Ferrari engine is a monster. Half a second ahead of Mercedes in the first sector alone.

    1. @amg44 Yup thing is people moaned like crazy when Merc engine was the best this Ferri is an absoloute rocket it is leagues ahead god knows what they have done just shows you do not need to change regulations, it is like the FIA are letting them do something lol. No one ever though Merc’s engone could be beat till 2021 and Ferrar have been brilliant. I repeat Hamilton won the title in 2nd best car last year, history will always show that

    2. Ferrari brought upgrades. Come off it. The car was just poor in the first half of the season, now it’s more competitive. I expect Mercedes will again be quicker in the race tomorrow though, could be interesting. Ferrari much harsher on the tyres.

      1. @hugh11 Are those updates worth that much? That they dominated qualifying on the highest downforce circuit?

        1. @amg44
          They were already poor in Monaco (the highest downforce circuit) as well as in Hungary.

      2. There’s the upgrades, but Leclerc is also faster — whether that’s due to pure form or to actual improvement by experience is anyone’s guess (I’m pretty sure it’s some of both).

    3. Leclerc is the key for poles and wins. He and Verstappen are the class of the grid.

      1. He and Verstappen are the class of the grid.

        Good thing it’s only your opinion isn’t it? Facts and stats state otherwise.

    4. @amg44
      Ferrari was absolutely nowhere relative to Mercedes in Australia, China, Spain, Monaco, France, Silverstone, and Hungary.

      Always knew it was Ferrari drivers who didnt get the most out of it in the first half of the season

      And how do you know that the Mercedes drivers are getting the most out of their car right now?

      Anyway, I don’t think either hypothesis is true. This might be a shock to you, but in F1 car performance is not stationary.

    5. @amg44

      Hamilton fans not happy that their man lost his ridiculous advantage and we have two drivers who are just as quick, beating him.
      Mercedes are quite welcome to start copying other teams if they have issues. To help their cooling they could have run a higher rake like Red Bull. Instead they didn’t want to lose other areas they are best in, but got beaten by Max. You all moaned it wasn’t fair.
      Now imagine if Honda could have come in without that stupid token system. Max would be fighting for the championship

  5. Leclerc is going to win the title next year and as a Hamilton fan i am fine with that, a driver in the best engine and if they have the chassis comparable it is what should happen. Can you imagine Leclerc in last years Ferrari lol. I keep saying it, Kimi and Vettel in the Ferrari and people would be moaning again today, but nope Leclerc like Hamilton Ves is a real benchmark for teams. So yes Hamilton won the title in seond best car last year he as done it twice not bad for someone who always the best cars

    1. If Honda up their game we could see a three way fight. It’s been too long since we saw that in F1.

      1. Could have been enjoying it right now without Honda having to enter with that stupid token system which locked in several championships for Lewis and Merc.
        They should have given Lewis a sack of trophies, then just opened things up for the fans.

    2. If Leclerc does win next year, – eg keeps his nerves when all about hm are losing theirs and blaiming it on him – i wonder if Hamilton would be tempted to retire to Ferrari ? Only a better car would tempt Hamilton to Ferrari.

      As we see Hamilton is obviously making a difference in the Mercedes. Or could the same speculation apply to Leclerc , if he were to find himself in the Mercedes? ;)

      1. What makes you think Ham would be able to beat Lec at Ferrari?

        1. Glamo….shhhh. Leave them be, it’s hard enough for them already.

          1. @bigjoe na we good pal about be to 6x WC and be the best statistically for atleast 10 years, youre guy on the other hand is down therw with Mika Hakinnen, i know it has been hard for you no WC since Hamilton eneterd the sport haha.

    3. Hamilton won championship last year because he used the best car, full stop.

      1. @hamiledon

        You mean like most past champions? You seem to have it in for Lewis reading some of your comments above?

        1. @blazzz
          Alonso never had a dominant car his whole career yet got 2 championships. Lewis had 2008,but Massa should have won without crashgate. Then there was Button in 2009.

  6. So Bottas saying his outlap wasn’t good (in his 2nd run, as well as the 1st one then); I’d say not learned enough from the Q2 mess then?

    1. Aparently Hamilton overtook him before the final corner before the final try. Hamilton got his tires to optimum temperature, Bottas did not.

  7. I have no idea where that Ferrari pace has come from, Crazy! Leclerc is really on top form at the moment, he keeps making Vettel’s life harder and harder.

    I can’t help but feel Hamilton has pulled something mighty out the bag in that last lap, having been pretty much level with Bottas on every lap before – to be 7 tenths clear is incredible. That front row could win him the race tomorrow.

    I’m really surprised how far Red Bull were behind, I would have expected Verstappen to be at least on the front row, they said on Sky maybe they went the wrong way on setup overnight. Maybe tomorrow will be their day though.

    1. I hope Ferrari aren’t being allowed to ‘bend the rules’ in order to keep the championship ‘entertaining’.

      In the past we’ve all kinds of rumbers of them ‘burning oil’, or having extra buttons on their console to do this, yet nothing offical was ever said to clear this up.

      I Just hope last week’s ‘black and white flag’, isn’t taken by them as a red flag to do whatever the hell they want.

      1. I know there are a few articles around (pre Singapore) in which the other engine manufacturers are questioning what they feel is suspicious Ferrari engine performance over 1 lap. We all know the teams (Ferrari included) push the rules to the limit but I just can’t see the FIA letting blatant rule breaking slide, the risks of other big manufacturers quitting the sport would be too high and harmful for them.

      2. Am I missing something or… wasn’t Mercedes burning oil that made their PU class of the field since 2014, when everybody wondered how could their consumption be so much better compared to the opposition?!

        1. @mg1982, it would seem that Red Bull were mainly pointing their finger towards Ferrari instead of Mercedes, and there seem to have been several things that made people suspect that Ferrari was up to something.

          It seems quite a few teams became suspicious when, in advance of the 2017 season, Ferrari were asking the FIA a number of questions about the permitted constituents for the engine oil, about the use of active valves controlling the flow of oil from the oil tank to the engine, whether they were allowed to use multiple different types of oil within their engine and over whether they could keep them stored in separate oil tanks.

          During that season, we then had confirmation that Ferrari had at least two different oil tanks fitted to the car – there were photographs from the Malaysian and Japanese GPs, when Ferrari removed the engine cover on the grid for Kimi and Vettel to work on the cars when they hit problems, that suggest there were three different oil tanks – and there were reports that Ferrari seem to have been switching the blends of oil that went into the auxiliary tank (or tanks) for different sessions (the FIA subsequently changed the regulations so teams can only use one oil blend per race weekend).

          There were also anecdotal comments from some of the people who were near the track – volunteer marshals and some spectators – who commented that there was a particularly strong stench of oil and an acrid smell akin to burnt oil from the works Ferrari, particularly if they were accelerating hard out of a slow corner. There were those who also noted how much smoke the works Ferrari was producing when it was fired up or had been idling for a period of time in the pit lane.

          It is not to say that Mercedes might not have been burning oil either – there have been those who have raised that allegation too – but, in the case of Ferrari, there seem to have been a number of systematic changes to the architecture of the power unit that people seemed to think was geared towards burning oil as a combustion enhancer or additional source of fuel.

        2. @mg1982
          The split turbine was what gave Merc a huge advantage in 2014. Obviously the engines have evolved since then and the law of diminishing returns has crept in but it wasn’t (just) the oil burning- which according to many F1 commentators Ferrari were actually doing more.

    2. @burden93

      Bottas was well down in the middle sector on most drivers if i am correct, so it was more that that Hamilton finding that difference. I think for once at Singapore, during the whole qualifying session, Bottas looked very close to Hamilton indeed. He just messed up the final lap which mattered most as Hamilton managed to improve a lot. Bottas also improved slightly and had it not been for that mistake, i think he likely will have been 4th or possibly 3rd.

  8. I don’t believe this ! Leclerc on pole in Singapore feels exactly the same as Hamilton’s surreal pole last year. However this time it’s in the right side of the garage for me. Can’t wait for Toto Wolf post race interview, of course if Ferrari will win :)

  9. Vettel needs to keep it clean tomorrow and if he can it makes Leclerc’s job easier with Hamilton. What a qualifier this kid is! We have the ingredients for a beauty of a race tomorrow especially since Max is near the point as well.

  10. How great that session was! Everybody at the limit, all with a real shot. Sick lap from LEC, he is on fire! He truly raised the game since summer break, and that’s really good to see. Hope he can convert the win tomorrow with another epic battle with HAM, who pulled a sweet 3rd sector btw.

    VET did a nice job also, and tomorrow he’ll be crucial to cover BOT. As for the Bulls, I found strange their pace. I was hoping VER at the top 3, but his final 3rd sector came out slow. I wonder what happened.

    Finally, I’m surprised Ferrari found solid pace at Marina Bay. I hope those updates proved way effective but I’ll be skeptical: maybe the pace can be more related to the cold tarmac like it was at Sakhir than to the upgrades alone. Let’s wait and see.

  11. Red Bull better up their game asap. Verstappen is certainly not enjoying to watch another young driver taking the spotlight and him uncapable of doing a thing about it.

  12. Leclerc le nouveau roi.

  13. I know this is an English site and it’s to be expected, but when Mercedes had extra speed it was always because Lewis was so great.
    Only yesterday keith reported that Lewis’s lap was ‘stunning’. Yet Max was just as impressive at that point. And Lerclerc, well wow. The real deal. Yet all the headlines and talk are about Ferrari having magical power.

    1. Leclerc and Max are real threat for British media’s loved drivers.

  14. Oh big Joe. You sad little man.

    1. You’ve really followed him around haven’t you

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