Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Singapore, 2022

Leclerc claims Singapore pole after Red Bull tell Verstappen to abandon final lap

2022 Singapore Grand Prix qualifying

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Charles Leclerc took pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix after Red Bull told Max Verstappen to abandon what appeared certain to be a pole lap at the chequered flag.

In a session that began in the wet and slowly dried out over the three stages, Leclerc took his ninth pole of the season despite making a mistake on his final lap. Verstappen, who would have been last to finish his lap on the drying track, was told to pit despite being almost a second up on Leclerc through two sectors.

Sergio Perez will start on the front row of the grid in second, with Lewis Hamilton taking his best starting position of the season in third. Verstappen will start down in eighth on the grid after abandoning his final run.


Following the rain-affected third practice, the circuit was still wet when the first phase of qualifying began. All drivers headed out on intermediate tyres, with the two Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell the first to set any lap times.

Charles Leclerc’s first flying lap was easily quickest of all, seven-tenths of a second faster than the Mercedes. The Ferrari driver then had a trip down the escape road at turn eight, from where he emerged, and Kevin Magnussen emulated his mistake at the same corner shortly afterwards.

Max Verstappen went top of the times with a 1’54.395, but with the track drying, Leclerc soon improved to go even faster by almost two tenths of a second.

With five minutes remaining, the field had committed to staying on intermediate tyres, no one feeling brave enough to risk slicks. By now the drop zone included the two Williams of Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi, with Yuki Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel. Bottas improved to move up to 11th, dropping Pierre Gasly into danger in 16th.

As the chequered flag flew, Tsunoda jumped into the top ten to go safe, while Daniel Ricciardo slipped into the bottom five. Gasly secured his prgression in the other AlphaTauri, which put Esteban Ocon into 16th place. Vettel jumped to 11th to go safe, pushing Mick Schumacher down into 16th.

There were double yellow flags when Fernando Alonso ran off track at turn eight and took a moment to rejoin, the Alpine driver briefly slipping into anti-stall. Ricciardo was unable to improve and was eliminated in 16th.

Schumacher was the last driver to cross the line, making a big improvement and moving safe, dropping Bottas down to 16th and out. “The timing wasn’t great,” rued the Alfa Romeo driver on his radio.

Joining Bottas in elimination were Ricciardo, Ocon and the two Williams of Albon and Latifi. “Just tricky out there,” Albon told his team. “Front [and] rear locking really a lot with these new pads, it’s doing the same as Canada where it’s just bite, it’s no feeling.”

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Q1 result

11Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’53.0578
244Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’53.1610.1049
316Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’54.1291.0727
411Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’54.4041.3477
555Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’54.5591.5028
663George RussellMercedesW131’54.6331.5769
720Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’55.1032.0468
822Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’55.3142.2579
914Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’55.3602.3038
1024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’55.3752.3187
115Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’55.6022.5458
1210Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’55.6062.5499
1318Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’55.6292.5727
1447Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’55.7362.6798
154Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’55.9142.8579
1677Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’56.0833.0267
173Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’56.2263.1699
1831Esteban OconAlpine-RenaultA5221’56.3373.2809
1923Alexander AlbonWilliams-MercedesFW441’56.9853.9287
206Nicholas LatifiWilliams-MercedesFW441’57.5324.4758

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The remaining 15 drivers stuck with the intermediate tyres when the second part of qualifying began. Leclerc was quickest of the first batch of drivers to complete a first flying lap, with Verstappen moving to second with a lap almost four-tenths slower than the Ferrari.

With their first laps complete, drivers debated whether or not it was time to switch to slick tyres. Ferrari sent Leclerc on a second push lap on his intermediate tyres, before opting to abandon the run and bring in the fastest driver on the track for a second set of intermediates.

With five minutes remaining, Aston Martin were the first team to roll the dice for slick tyres, switching both Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel onto softs. Both were safely out of the drop zone, while the two Haas cars of Schumacher and Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu, George Russell’s Mercedes and Tsunoda all needing to make improvements to save themselves from elimination.

Zhou pitted for slick tyres, while the Haas cars and Tsunoda chose to stay on intermediates. Russell used fresh intermediates to improve to seventh, dropping slick-shod Vettel into the danger zone in 11th but with the Aston Martin driver on slick tyres.

But those on slicks couldn’t find the grip they needed. Stroll skidded off at turn 13 but continued. Vettel began his flying lap but skidded off at turn eight and lost his chance to improve. “We’re out,” he told his team on the radio. “It was too early for dries.” Zhou, the only other driver on slicks, also failed to make the cut for the final 10.

Meanwhile Tsunoda, Magnussen, Alonso and Gasly all used their intermediates to improve at the chequered flag. That dropped Russell into 11th and as the Mercedes driver had no other opportunity to improve, he was eliminated before Q3. “Sorry guys I couldn’t do anything, I really struggled,” he said. “Exactly the same issue as P1. What a shame.”

The three slick-tyred runners were also eliminated, along with Mick Schumacher, who was left behind while team mate Magnussen headed into Q3.

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Q2 result

116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’52.34314
244Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’52.6910.34816
31Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’52.7230.38013
411Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’52.8180.47512
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’53.1270.78416
655Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’53.2190.87615
710Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’53.5461.20317
822Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’53.8481.50516
94Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’53.9421.59917
1020Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’54.0061.66316
1163George RussellMercedesW131’54.0121.66917
1218Lance StrollAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’54.2111.86815
1347Mick SchumacherHaas-FerrariVF-221’54.3702.02716
145Sebastian VettelAston Martin-MercedesAMR221’54.3802.03715
1524Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo-FerrariC421’55.5183.17514

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Although none of the drivers who used slick tyres in Q2 made the cut for the final 10, both Verstappen and Sainz queued up at the end of the pit lane on fresh softs when the crucial third and final segment of qualifying began.

Leclerc made a late call in the garage to switch from intermediates to softs, leaving only Magnussen and Tsunoda as the only two among the top ten drivers to choose to remain on the intermediates for this first efforts.

Verstappen was the first driver over the line to start his first flying lap. With the track still damp, Yuki Tsunoda was easily the fastest on his intermediate tyres, after the first laps. That was until Hamilton moved up to the top of the times by over two seconds on his slicks.

The track was rapidly improving and the circuit began coming to the dry tyre runners. Alonso, Leclerc and Verstappen all went seconds quicker on their second attempts, before Hamilton retook provisional pole with a 1’51.019.

Perez moved into third position as Pierre Gasly made a mistake at turn 18 and had to recover back onto the track by reversing his AlphaTauri. Fortunately, none of the nine other cars on track were impeded by his manoeuvre.

With one minute of time remaining, Alonso took provisional pole but was immediately beaten by Leclerc. Sainz crossed the line to complete his final lap as the chequered flag flew. Leclerc set two personal best sectors but made an error at turn 16.

Despite the mistake, Leclerc still sat on provisional pole ahead of Perez and Hamilton, who had improved to go third. Verstappen was the last driver with a chance of taking pole position and was comfortably quicker than Leclerc through two sectors. But as he approached the final corner, Red Bull suddenly called their driver into the pit lane, abandoning his run and costing him an almost guaranteed pole position.

Verstappen was apoplectic. “Why?” he exclaimed. “What the fuck? What the fuck!”

As Verstappen returned to the pits, Leclerc had secured his ninth pole of the season. He will start the Singapore Grand Prix with Perez alongside him on the front row, and Hamilton behind them in third, his best starting position of the season so far.

Sainz will start fourth, ahead of Alonso, Norris and Gasly. After abandoning an almost certain pole lap, Verstappen will start from eighth on the grid, with Magnussen and Tsunoda rounding out the top ten.

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Q3 result

116Charles LeclercFerrariF1-751’49.41220
211Sergio PerezRed BullRB181’49.4340.02220
344Lewis HamiltonMercedesW131’49.4660.05423
455Carlos Sainz JnrFerrariF1-751’49.5830.17122
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine-RenaultA5221’49.9660.55423
64Lando NorrisMcLaren-MercedesMCL361’50.5841.17224
710Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’51.2111.79924
81Max VerstappenRed BullRB181’51.3951.98320
920Kevin MagnussenHaas-FerrariVF-221’51.5732.16123
1022Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red BullAT031’51.9832.57123

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2022 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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23 comments on “Leclerc claims Singapore pole after Red Bull tell Verstappen to abandon final lap”

  1. Anyone have any clue why RB did that?

    1. No clue. Just like when they stopped Checo with 1 lap to go in Abu Dhabi.

      1. Over in the other article someone mentioned Marko explaining Verstappen didn’t have fuel. Didn’t see it myself, but seems the most logical explanation.

        They stopped Pérez in 2021 because they feared he had an issue that would prolong the safety car.

    2. @bluechris it seems it was down to his fuel load, because Red Bull hadn’t expected Verstappen to do that extra lap.

      They seem to realised that, if he had continued on that lap, he would have not had enough fuel on board to then return to the pits and provide the mandatory fuel sample. That, in turn, would have meant disqualification from qualifying – so, when facing the options of 8th or starting from the back of the grid, they chose the latter and pulled Verstappen into the pits so he would at least satisfy the fuel sample requirements and could hold onto 8th.

      1. Thanks. like the logic, bad or worst..

      2. Tommy Scragend
        1st October 2022, 17:08

        Brundle called this exact thing on live commentary. I can’t think of any other reason why they would do that.

        1. Tommy Scragend
          1st October 2022, 17:09

          (replying to myself)

          Of course it suits “The Show” for the feed to broadcast Verstappen asking why, but not to broadcast the answer, to which Verstappen probably responded “Ah yeah, makes sense, fair enough”.

          But not enough drama in that.

          1. Tommy, I’m not a fan of the way drivers comments are selectively edited and broadcast out of context but in this case I heard had Verstappen colorfully asking why, and his race engineer telling him something like “we’ll explain it when you are back in the garage”.

    3. Lewisham Milton
      1st October 2022, 16:15

      Find out next March when the Netflix script unit release their story. Good for The Show.

  2. Checo back on form to fend off critics. So nearly pole…

  3. Hmm so the story was rain-affected, intermediates on a largely walled track, before slicks for the final stint.
    Hamilton’s pace suggest the track suits Mercedes, as far as bounce and porpoising,
    eg they have consistent rear downforce to push hard.

    1. As for Verstappen running out of fuel, why would they even need to take that gamble. What were they looking to save by running light? If i had to guess, i’d say they had Verstappen back on an older engine, to preserve this newest engine for later,
      and so they needed this ploy to offset the older engine.

      Meanwhile, Hamilton on his newer engine nearly made that pace pay.

      1. Ajaxn, it sounds more like Red Bull miscalculating fuel consumption as the circuit conditions improved, coupled with Verstappen doing more laps in Q3 than the original run plan had allowed for. It probably wasn’t a deliberate gamble – instead, it looks more like an operational error by the team.

        1. Yeah – I thinks it’s a miscalculation in how much fuel he’d burn off in the drying conditions. The amount of time spent on the throttle will have varied massively throughout the sessions. You might argue just keep a bit extra fuel in as reserve, but with these overweight cars where teams are running without paint to save weight and a long two minute lap I think Red Bull just cut it too fine.

          It makes sense to take a guaranteed top 10 start than risk not having enough for a sample and start at the back.

          1. I would’ve risked it, it’s a chance for pole, he looked fastest, and he’s not fighting for the championship and with his pace he could make a more interesting comeback from last in case the fuel wasn’t enough.

  4. Not enough money under the cost cap for fuel?

    1. Aha, that’s a good one.

  5. Great job by Leclerc he always delivers in quali. It will be an interesting race with Max in 8th, Singapore is tricky to overtake but a safety car is almost a certainty so there could be opportunities on strategy.
    It’s so weird how far behind Ricciardo is from Norris. In F1 terms it’s like they are on different planets.
    And Albon came out of ICU last week to outqualify his teammate, lol. Latifi is a nice guy and a real gent by all accounts but absolutely the right decision to replace him.

    1. In terms of getting into q3 ricciardo was actually pretty close, norris barely got through, I wouldn’t blame ricciardo on this particular occasion, mclaren seemed week on the wet.

  6. Let’s see if the legend’s run of winning fairytale would ended here on the tight street circuit which requiring mammoth skill and bravery for hard overtaking, not just the usual ‘power’ boasted straightline speed overtaking.

    1. Nah, max will be 2nd by lap 10

Comments are closed.