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Qualifying report

F1 Singapore GP: Leclerc takes pole as Verstappen is only eighth

Charles Leclerc topped a thrilling wet-to-dry qualifying for Formula 1’s 2022 Singapore Grand Prix, while championship leader Max Verstappen ended up eighth after being told to abandon his final lap.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

After heavy rain ahead of FP3 had soaked the Marina Bay track and meant that session was cut in half, Q1 began with patches for the layout still very wet but the majority dry.

This meant the frontrunning drivers ran intermediates to get through to Q3 before finally the majority made the switch to slicks – with all cars fuelled to circulate throughout each segment to take advantage of the drying conditions and the major track evolution factor.

Lewis Hamilton led the way early in Q3 with a 1m53.082s that bettered Yuki Tsunoda’s initial leading effort still running the inters.

Hamilton, Leclerc and Fernando Alonso exchanged first place throughout the middle part of Q3, while Verstappen showed rapid pace in the first sector before he regularly lost out with big slides in the still-damp parts of the final sector.

Leclerc’s pole-winning 1m49.412s came with under a minute remaining but his opposition could not depose him at a race where he could lose the 2022 title fight to Verstappen.

Sergio Perez slotted into second, before Hamilton posted a purple second sector to briefly threaten Leclerc’s top spot before he fell back in the final turns.

Carlos Sainz took fourth ahead of Alonso, Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly and then came Verstappen.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

He abandoned his two final runs – the first featuring a stunning first sector before a slide at Turn 18 meant he backed off for one final effort.

He was close but not bettering his previous personal best but was ordered to pit and not complete the lap by Red Bull to his clear frustration and confusion.

Kevin Magnussen had like Tsunoda started Q3 on the inters but switched to slicks much earlier than the AlphaTauri runner – the pair ending up ninth and 10th.

Leclerc topped Q2 while running the inters throughout – despite asking his Ferrari team to consider slicks as the track continued to dry.

While this was assessed at all teams, only the Aston Martin cars of Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll, plus Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu opted to risk the softs.

None of them went quicker than the inter runners, with Vettel blowing what had been a promising final lap by locking both his front wheels and sliding down the Turn 7 escape road.

That left him 14th ahead of Zhou who complained of having “no grip” on his slicks gamble, with Stroll ending up ahead in 12th.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

Late jumps up the order from Gasly and Magnussen meant George Russell was shuffled down to a shock elimination in 11th for Mercedes, while Mick Schumacher was the other non-slicks runner to miss out on a Q3 berth.

The Haas driver did set a personal best on his final lap, but could do no better than 13th.

In Q1, the drivers headed out on inters, with the two Mercedes cars queuing at the end of the pitlane waiting for the action to begin – with Magnussen, Leclerc and Alex Albon among the drivers to slide down the escape roads at Turns 8 and 18.

Verstappen also had a big moment sliding towards the wall exiting Turn 17 heading towards the corner underneath the big waterfront grandstand late in the third sector, but held on and went on to top the segment ahead of Hamilton and Leclerc, the last of which did not come in to take a fresh set of inters.

Schumacher’s last-gasp improvement knocked out Valtteri Bottas, with Daniel Ricciardo 17th despite setting a personal best on his final effort.

Esteban Ocon likewise could not find enough late on and ended up a shock 18th ahead of Williams pair Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

Full qualifying results:

Cla Driver Chassis Time Gap Interval
1 Monaco Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1'49.412    
2 Mexico Sergio Perez Red Bull 1'49.434 0.022 0.022
3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1'49.466 0.054 0.032
4 Spain Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1'49.583 0.171 0.117
5 Spain Fernando Alonso Alpine 1'49.966 0.554 0.383
6 United Kingdom Lando Norris McLaren 1'50.584 1.172 0.618
7 France Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1'51.211 1.799 0.627
8 Netherlands Max Verstappen Red Bull 1'51.395 1.983 0.184
9 Denmark Kevin Magnussen Haas 1'51.573 2.161 0.178
10 Japan Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1'51.983 2.571 0.410

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