Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying Results: Sebastian Vettel On Pole

Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing

Australian Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing. SRDJAN SUKI

"We knew coming here it would be hard", Hamilton told Sky Sports F1. Sebastian Vettel clouted the barriers with a bit more force to do some damage, as did Kevin Magnussen. Former champions McLaren and Williams have not won since 2012.

Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both qualified on the third row, with the gap between the two Mercedes team-mates nearly seven tenths of a second.

Hamilton has an all-time record 69 career poles.

Hamilton felt happy he had maximised his own effort - which left him less than 0.1s shy of Kimi Raikkonen - but admitted Mercedes had doubted Ferrari had the pace to snatch pole.

Qualifying would suggest Hamilton is set to lose his slender three-point lead over Vettel in the championship on Sunday.

The only regular drivers yet to score are Renault's Jolyon Palmer and Sauber's Marcus Ericsson.

His team-mate Fernando Alonso was on course to improve his time, but had to back out of it when the virtual safety vehicle was deployed for the Vettel incident, and he ended up seventh.

This is Vettel's third pole position of the season, having taken the top spot in Russian Federation and in Hungary and the German's 49th career pole is Ferrari's fourth this year after Raikkonen also took the top spot in Monaco.

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The 30-year-old cited two examples. It is Vettel who tops the card with four Marina Bay wins coming in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015.

For starters, the biggest story, which can't be stressed enough, is the drivers championship only being separated by three points.

The 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) track, with its 23 corners, greatly reduces speed and was expected to favor Ferrari - and perhaps Red Bull - over Mercedes. Red Bull, however, is restrained by an underperforming Renault engine, whereas Ferrari's power unit is nearly on par with Mercedes'.

Sebastian Vettel set a sensational time to take pole for the Singapore Grand Prix.

However, Vettel, who is the most successful F1 driver at the Singapore GP with four wins, insists it will still be a close fight for the top of the podium, and refused to rule Mercedes out of the running for the chequered flag.

The lowest winning grid position was Alonso, who came from 15th place in a now-notorious 2008 race where his Brazilian team mate Nelson Piquet crashed his Renault deliberately on team orders. But there is the start which can be exciting and safety cars do often come in to play here, too. Previous year it was deployed on the opening lap. He added, however, that the track is not one that is great in terms of overtaking, so it's going to be tricky. Last year's lasted one hour and 55 minutes.

The Finn was an 11th-hour signing to replace Nico Rosberg this year, but has now been given yet another one-year deal amid rumours that Mercedes want Max Verstappen for 2019.

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