Lewis Hamiton achieved an important pole position in terms of the world championship with an epic lap around the Marina Bay street circuit.
The Mercedes driver set a best time of one minute, 36.015 seconds on his first run in Q3, with engineer Pete Bonnington telling him “that was an epic lap” after crossing the line.
Hamilton abandoned his lap on his second run in the middle sector after running wide out of the Turn 7 right-hander, but had done enough to secure pole by 0.319 seconds from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.
Verstappen was on a lap that was close to Hamilton’s time after two sectors on his second run, but a slow final sector put paid to his chances of taking pole position.
Verstappen said “this feels like a victory” after struggling with engine complaints.
Sebastian Vettel also failed to improve on his second run, ending up 0.613 seconds down in third place and less than a tenth ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth for Ferrari, two tenths ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.
Sergio Perez was seventh, a second slower than Ricciardo, for Force India ahead of the Haas of Romain Grosjean.
Force India teammate Esteban Ocon survived a brush with the wall at the exit of Turn 21 to claim ninth place ahead of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was bumped out of the top ten by Grosjean’s late improvement, leaving him P11 and fastest of those eliminated in Q2.
He missed out on a place in the top ten shootout by just 0.107 seconds having outpaced Renault driver Carlos Sainz, who failed to improve his time on his second run and complained of “absolutely no grip”.
Sauber pairing Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson were P13 and P14, albeit with seven tenths separating the duo.
Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly was P15, lapping over two tenths slower than Ericsson.
Kevin Magnussen was the quickest to be eliminated in Q1 in P16 after failing to improve on his second run and being shuffled into the drop zone by Ericsson
Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley was P17, lapping two tenths off teammate Gasly but half-a-tenth ahead of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne.
Williams pairing Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were a distant P19 and P20, lapping 1.4 seconds off the rest of the field.
So an awesome lap from Lewis Hamilton. Six tenths clear over his title rival Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes were not the favourites for pole and yet the defending champion delivered the result with this fine pole.
Qualifying positions, Singapore Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m36.015s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m36.334s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m36.628s
4 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m36.702s
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m36.794s
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m36.996s
7 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m37.985s
8 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m38.320s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m38.365s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m38.588s
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m38.641s
12 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m38.716s
13 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.747s
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.453s
15 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m39.691s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m39.644s
17 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1m39.809s
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m39.864s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m41.263s
20 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m41.334s