In tricky conditions after rain fell until two hours before qualifying in Singapore, Charles Leclerc secured pole position ahead of Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Carlos Sainz. It was Scuderia Ferrari’s 11th pole of the season, its 241st overall, while for the Monegasque it was his ninth this year, 18th in total putting him alongside former Ferrari drivers, Mario Andretti, Rene Arnoux and Kimi Räikkönen.
Slippery track. The qualifying session was one of the most complicated of the season: the track never really dried out because of the high humidity levels, after heavy rain had fallen since the third free practice session. Charles and Carlos, and indeed the rest of the field, completed the first two phases on Intermediate tyres, carefully managed from the pit wall. In Q3, the drivers were finally able to run slicks, even though a few sections were still damp, making the final moments something of a lottery. In the thrilling closing stages, Charles Leclerc proved the most adept at threading his car in between the Marina Bay walls, stopping the clocks on his final run in 1’49”412. Others got close, but not close enough. Perez was 22 thousandths slower and Hamilton 54. On his last lap, it looked as though Carlos was heading for an even quicker time, but a small slide at turn 16 saw the lap get away from him. Despite that, the Spaniard continued to push, crossing the line in 1’49”583, 171 thousandths off the pole time.
A long complicated race. Tomorrow, Charles and Carlos can expect a long race in which anything can happen, so that tyre management, the Safety Car and the weather can all shake up the order. A further complication is that not many drivers have done much running in race configuration so far this weekend. Charles is one of those with fewer kilometres under his belt and he will therefore have to rely on data acquired by his team-mate during Friday’s free practice.
Charles Leclerc #16
"With track conditions changing throughout, it was a tricky but exciting qualifying. We were very quick on the Intermediates in Q1 and Q2, then had to start again from zero on the slicks in Q3. There were some damp spots of tarmac here and there and you really had to adapt to the track evolution. The feeling in the car has been great all weekend and I look forward to racing here again tomorrow."
Carlos Sainz #55
"It was a challenging qualifying today, one of the toughest of the season due to the conditions and the amount of traffic at a street circuit like this. I think we did a decent session overall, but it’s frustrating to see that a tenth and a half cost us four positions, especially after reviewing my fastest lap, which was looking very good for pole until a snap at turn 16. We’ll look into it and check what we could have done better, but now we need to focus on tomorrow. We can still get a very good result from here and we know how long and eventful these Singapore races can get. I’m ready to fight for everything."
Laurent Mekies, Racing Director
"Our car was very quick today, as were our drivers, which is a very important factor on such a unique track as this one, especially in what has so far been a difficult weekend for everyone with rain and extremely changeable track conditions. For the team and drivers to make the right decisions together in Qualifying was particularly tricky because of the really treacherous track conditions. We were aiming to get both cars onto the front row, but overall this is an important result for the team, thanks to clear thinking between the drivers and those on the pit wall, which is good for everyone and gives the drivers confidence when approaching what will be a very long race. There are several question marks about tomorrow’s race because, like all the teams, we have not done much work on race pace, so we will be less well prepared than usual. In fact, we had to improvise a bit in qualifying, but, here especially, that’s all part of the game. Charles and Carlos did a very good job of finding the right pace in many different conditions and tonight we will work together, looking at all possible scenarios. I also think that today we did not see the best our rivals can do, so for tomorrow, not only must we execute our race perfectly, we also have to find a pace during the Grand Prix that will put us in the fight for the win."