Vettel 'peaked too early' as Leclerc celebrates surprise Singapore pole

As Ferrari celebrated a shock pole position in Singapore, Sebastian Vettel knew he had missed a glorious chance to start at the front.

Third place qualifier Sebastian Vettel looks on in parc ferme during qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.   -  Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel felt he "peaked too early" in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix as he watched team-mate Charles Leclerc storm to a spectacular pole.

Ferrari defied expectations at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on Saturday as Leclerc claimed his third consecutive Formula One pole and fifth of 2019, while Vettel came third.

After winning at Spa and Monza, the Scuderia was not expected to have the fastest package in Singapore at a track more suited to rivals Mercedes and Red Bull.

READ | Leclerc stuns with pole hat-trick in Singapore

Friday's FP1 and FP2 action appeared to back up that view despite some Ferrari upgrades being introduced, but the Italian team upped the ante in FP3 and then excelled in qualifying.

Vettel looked likely to claim pole when he was over three-and-a-half tenths clear of Leclerc after the first runs in Q3, but instead the other Ferrari won the session – and out-qualified him for an eighth straight race - after the German aborted his second attempt due to a mistake.

"The final bit of Q3 wasn't great but sometimes that's the way it goes," said Vettel, a four-time winner in Singapore. "I was feeling good, so maybe I peaked a bit early, we had a tiny wobble and there was no point in finishing that lap. The final attempt should've been better but overall the car was making sense and feeling good.

"It puts us in a good position for Sunday. It should be a good race, let's see what the tyres are going to do, if we can push for the two hours or will we have to manage them. I'm looking forward to it. We were quick out there and it's always fun round here one way or another."

Leclerc looks best placed to triumph as Ferrari seeks a third straight win for the first time in 11 years.

"I'm extremely happy to be on pole," said Leclerc, who was joined on the front row by championship leader Lewis Hamilton. "It was a very good lap, if you look at it, there were some moments when I thought I had lost control of the car. We had a very tough Friday, it was not my day, but I worked hard in the car and it paid off – this feels great.

"I would like to thank the team so much for what they've done - an amazing job to bring the package we needed. We came here knowing it would be a difficult track for us but we brought some bits which work properly, which is not always the case."

ALSO READ | Hamilton and Wolff stunned by Ferrari pace in Singapore qualifying

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto explained the updates to his cars had exceeded expectations.

"It's even better than we hoped, we brought a new aero package," Binotto told Sky Sports. "It's always nice to start at the front in Singapore but the race is Sunday and we shouldn't forget that. I still believe the arrows [Mercedes] are very strong."

Eight of the 11 grands prix in Singapore have been won by the pole-sitter.