Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton Earns Surprise F1 Pole at Singapore Grand Prix

Formula One World Championship

Singapore GP: Raikkonen fastest in 2nd practice session

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will begin the Singapore Grand Prix on pole as he bids to extend his 30-point advantage over Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton's seventh pole of the season represented a very special effort around the floodlit city streets of Singapore that left him shaking his head in disbelief afterwards.

Hamilton and Mercedes' main concern in this race was to ensure they retained the lead at the first corner, with a feisty Verstappen with nothing to lose behind them, and then to avoid being passed by Verstappen or Vettel during the pit-stop period.

Verstappen feels that should he get the jump on Hamilton at the start, he will be in with a really good chance of taking the win as overtaking is hard in between the Armco barriers, however from the front row he feels he has at least put him in with a chance. The British driver had nailed an extraordinary lap to take pole.

As Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel sat comfortably in their positions, it was their team-mates who provided the entertainment in the closing laps.

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"Obviously the gap if you look at it is a surprise but I don't think it reflects the true performance". "Bigger or smaller. If we are a team, we fail and we win together, so I don't want to point my finger at Sebastian". A small brush with the wall in practice on Friday limited his running, however, and may be the cause of his lost time. He emerged behind a Force India and had fitted the ultrasoft tyres.

The Ferrari driver had executed the better launch only to have his advances rebuffed at the first turn, but he trailed the Dutchman closely all the way to Turn 7, where he swept around Verstappen's outside and into second place.

"To be honest we had a little bit [engine power drop-outs] but it wasn't the reason why we dropped so much pace in qualifying, " Ricciardo told Sky Sports.

"It was clear we were not fast enough in the race, we need to understand why. What we tried to do was get to first position and get ahead, but Lewis was too quick".

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Hamilton, however, was on a roll of both confidence and momentum and was understandably optimistic that he is in a position to close out the title. "We just have to make sure we have a clean start and then everything is possible". "So that's the goal".

Hamilton responded immediately and pitted on the next lap, but he crucially opted for the soft compound that had been predicted to last until the end. The victory has put him 22 behind Michael Schumacher's record of 91 race wins.

"Look, even with good pace here it's so tricky to overtake".

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