Leclerc stuns with pole hat-trick in Singapore

Charles Leclerc also started on pole in Belgium and Italy, and won both races, and will be looking to replicate that in Singapore on Sunday.

Charles Leclerc's pole in Sinapore makes it three straight poles for the Ferrari driver.   -  Getty Images

In-form Charles Leclerc caused a shock at the Singapore Grand Prix by claiming a magnificent pole position.

The Ferrari driver, who has won the last two races, took his fifth pole of 2019 and third in succession with a tremendous lap of one minute and 36.217 seconds in the final moments of qualifying. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will start second for Mercedes after coming in 0.191secs behind Leclerc.

Leclerc's team-mate Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third and has now been out-qualified by the Monegasque for eight straight races, with Max Verstappen coming fourth for Red Bull.

Valtteri Bottas was almost a second off the pace in fifth place and Alex Albon took the other spot on the third row in sixth. Carlos Sainz, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Lando Norris rounded out the top 10.

Having won the last two races in Belgium and Italy, Ferrari was expected to trail Mercedes and Red Bull at a slower, higher-downforce Marina Bay Street Circuit.

That view was reinforced by Friday's action in practice, but after showing surprise pace in FP3, the Scuderia produced a magnificent qualifying performance on Saturday, clearly buoyed by upgrades it introduced this week.

Vettel was almost four-tenths clear of Leclerc after the first runs of Q3 and looked poised to take pole, with both Mercedes cars around a second back. But the second runs shook up the grid as Vettel had to abort his effort after making a mistake.

Leclerc took advantage and then held on to top spot after five-time Formula One champion Hamilton improved significantly but only managed to get in front of one of the Ferraris.

Eight of the 11 Singapore Grands Prix have been won by the driver on pole, with man of the moment Leclerc well placed as Ferrari looks to win a third straight race for the first time in 11 years.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:36.217
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.191s
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.220s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.596s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.929s
6. Alex Albon (Red Bull) +1.194s
7. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1.601s
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1.878s
9. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +2.047s
10. Lando Norris (McLaren) +2.112s