Singapore GP: Raikkonen fastest in 2nd practice session

Lewis Collier
September 16, 2018

Ferrari and Vettel are a ideal fit for the Marina Bay street circuit, the German having won under the floodlights a record four times, yet Hamilton produced a stunning pole lap of 1:36.015 to tighten his grip on the title race. In doing so, Hamilton secured a record-extending 79th pole in Formula One and 200th for a British driver.

The four-time world champion's lap time of one minute 36.015 seconds in Q3 was one of his best ever and was 1.3 seconds faster than his previous quickest lap. "I managed to maximize on every corner".

OUT: Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso), Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Sergey Sirotkin (Williams), Lance Stroll (Williams). The British driver clinched the title previous year, beating second-placed Vettel by 46 points.

Clearing Verstappen's Red Bull, who starts second, is vital. "It's so hard, this track - it's the most challenging circuit I think for us of the year". From FP3 onwards I was shaking with anger and now I'm shaking with happiness. "When I saw second on the board I was surprised, with all the issues I've been having".

Ferrari led after the second and third practice on a track suited to its auto.

It was not clear where Ferrari lost so much performance to Mercedes between final practice and qualifying, but Vettel said his out-laps, which were much faster than Hamilton's, did not prepare his tyres as well as he had hoped. But Hamilton and Bottas think Mercedes are in the mix for victory with both.

"We got through our programme, tried some different options and got some good results from it", said championship leader Hamilton of the Silver Arrows' promising Friday work. "I think qualifying for us wasn't as smooth as it should've been, so I think other people obviously did better than us and that's why we're third". However, he crashed heading into the first turn, taking out Verstappen, Raikkonen, and Fernando Alonso with him.

This time, Vettel is 30 points behind Hamilton and racing on a track where seven of the past 10 races have been won from pole.

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Vettel is also seeking a fifth world title and while he remains a huge threat in a very competitive vehicle, the German was disappointed not to have been able to capitalise on the dominance Ferrari had over their rivals in practice.

Hamilton was not expecting to start from first place this time, either.

Although Ferrari took a convincing 1-2 in qualifying at the Italian GP two weeks ago - Raikkonen ahead of Vettel - Vettel spun off track after a shaky start and finished fourth to concede more ground. "I was a bit nervous going into qualifying", he said. "In FP2, both Ferrari and Red Bull looked very quick, but we were not far off", Bottas said.

And after struggling with the ultrasofts after Q1, Hamilton admitted he was anxious he would end up in the same situation as Ferrari, who were unable to get through Q2 on the ultrasofts.

Hamilton had a scare in Q1 when he struggled on slower tires and was only 14th fastest - only just scraping into Q2.

"The second lap I tried to go that little bit more - just half a meter braking later, but it was just too much and the auto wasn't going to have it".

Ferrari has all the worrying to do now.

"But the Q2 was good and once we got to Q3 it was nice but the extra run that others got".

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