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Max sizzles in Singapore

Highlights

  • Daniel and Max ease through Q1 in P1 and P3 respectively.
  • Both make light work of Q2 with Max in P2 and Daniel in P6.
  • Max takes P2 to set up fourth career front row start.
  • Daniel sixth as he struggles with car balance.

Max overcame a niggling mechanical issue to claim his second consecutive front-row position in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix. The Dutchman suffered a series of small engine woes during the session, but found the pace in Q3 to post a lap of 1:36.344, three tenths of a second behind pole position Lewis Hamilton. Daniel will start the race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit from P6.

The Bulls opened their Q1 account in style. After Kimi Räikkönen set the early pace with a time of 1:38.534, Daniel powered into action midway through the segment, bypassing the Finn with a time of the 1:38.153. Max then slotted into P3 with his opening lap of 1:38.715.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who seemed to back out of his opening lap, then found clear air to post a time of 1:38.218. That was good enough for P2 behind Daniel, but it dropped Max to fourth spot. Haas’ Romain Grosjean then arrived with a time of 1:38.685 to shuffle Max down to fifth, but the Bulls had done enough and elected to sit out the final runs.

In the drop zone as the final runs began were McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Williams' drivers Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin.

It was Ericsson who made the jump to safety in the dying seconds. He vaulted to P13 and that dropped Haas’ Kevin Magnussen to P16 and out of the session. Eliminated behind the Dane were Hartley, Vandoorne, Sirotkin and Stroll.

The end of the session was nervous too for championship leader Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes elected to run the first session on ultrasoft tyres and as better times came in from rivals in the closing stages, Hamilton plummeted down the order. Fortunately for the Briton the fall eventually halted at P14.

In the second session, Ferrari elected to gamble, with Räikkönen and Vettel being sent out on ultrasoft tyres. Hamilton then took top spot with a time of 1:37.344 and Daniel slotted into P2 with a lap of 1:37.406. Max then bypassed both with a lap of 1:37.214.

Vettel, meanwhile, was lodged in 10th, while Räikkönen was all the way down in P15 and telling his team the ultrasoft was “just too slow”.

In the final runs, both Ferrari drivers moved to hypersofts and Raikkonen immediately jumped to the top of the order, ahead of Max, with a time of 1:37.194. Vettel caught traffic on his run and when Bottas improved to P3 after the flag, Vettel dropped to P6 behind fifth placed Daniel. Again the Bulls chose to sit out the second runs.

Eliminated at the end of Q2 were McLaren’s Fernando Alonso in 11th place, followed by Renault’s Carlos Sainz, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, his team-mate Ericsson and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly.

In the first runs of Q3 Hamilton staked an early claim to pole position with a quick lap of 1:36.015. Max kept the championship leader in his sights by taking P2 with a time of 1:36.344. Vettel slotted into P3, although he was almost six tenths of a second behind title rival Hamilton. With Bottas fourth and Räikkönen fifth, Daniel was left with sixth place thanks to a time of 1:37.608 and returned to the garage complaining about the balance of his car.

And oddly, that was how the top six order stayed after the final runs. Max looked set to challenge Hamilton’s first run by logging the quickest second sector of the whole session but then the Dutchman was forced to back off in the final sector as he experienced a mechanical niggle. Still, he managed to hold second to claim the fourth front-row start of his career and his second in a row in Singapore.

Vettel, too, began by posing a challenge, running quickest in the first sector but the lap went away from the German as the lap wore on and he had to settle for third place ahead of Bottas and Räikkönen.

Daniel, meanwhile, had to settle for sixth place. The Aussie found a substantial improvement on his second run, with a final time of 1:36.996 but that was still two tenths back from Räikkönen.

Seventh place went to Force India’s Sergio Pérez, with the Mexican finishing ahead of Haas’ Romain Grosjean, Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.

Quali Stats:

2 – Consecutive front row starts in Singapore for Max Verstappen.

4 – Career front-row starts for Max. As well as his brace in Singapore, the Dutchman started the 2016 Belgian GP and the 2017 Mexican GP from P2.

6 – Today’s sixth place is Daniel’s lowest qualifying position in Singapore in his time with Red Bull Racing. He last started sixth or lower when he began the 2013 race from P9.

Singapore Grand Prix - Qualifying Result:

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. MAX VERSTAPPEN
  3. Sebastian Vettel
  4. Valtteri Bottas
  5. Kimi Räikkönen
  6. DANIEL RICCIARDO
  7. Sergio Perez
  8. Romain Grosjean
  9. Esteban Ocon
  10. Nikko Hülkenberg