Singapore (dpa) - Ferrari wonder boy Charles Leclerc is simply unstoppable. With a brilliant final lap, the 21-year-old stormed to pole position on Saturday for the Formula 1 night race in Singapore and is thus for the third time in a row on the best starting position.
The Singapore record winners Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel had to congratulate Monegassen on the home straight. "I am extremely happy. It was a very good lap, but there were several moments when I almost lost control, "said Leclerc.
After his recent victories in Spa and Monza, the young star once again put the four-time champion Vettel in the shade. It looked in the final section of the gripping qualification as if the Hesse could finally silence all the critics. But then Vettel botched his last attempt, Leclerc and championship leader Hamilton moved past him. "That was a little wobbly, then it made no sense to finish the lap," said Vettel.
The overall strong Ferrari appearance came quite surprisingly, also for Hamilton it was a small shock. "I got everything out of my car," asserted the British Mercedes driver. "I do not know where Ferrari brought the speed. We did not expect them to be that strong here, "said the defending champion, who had won the floodlighting spectacle over the past two years. On the winding street circuit, the cars need high downforce, so far this season a great weakness of the Ferrari.
Even in Friday's training Leclerc and Vettel had clearly lagged behind Hamilton and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. The Dutchman had to settle for fourth in qualifying. "I am very surprised. We did not expect to challenge the Mercedes and Red Bull, "said Leclerc.
In view of the unexpected jump in performance Vettel was a little acidified, that it was not enough for him even for the first place. "The Pole was within reach," said the 32-year-old. After the low point of Monza, when he was only 13th after an embarrassing spin and a time penalty, he suddenly had the chance for a furious signal.
But in the grand final Vettel went to high risk and lost too much time in the first corner. So he finally missed 0.2 tenths of a second to the record of Leclerc. The Monegasse was faster than Vettel for the eighth time in qualifying. Also in the World Cup Leclerc has left behind the Germans by his emotional triumph of Monza two weeks ago. The impression of a change of guard becomes more and more solidified.
However, both Ferrari drivers have no real chance of winning the World Championship. Hamilton leads the class ahead of the 15th round of the season on Sunday (14.10 / RTL and Sky) with 63 points ahead of his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. Verstappen, Leclerc and Vettel follow with a significant lag.
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