Red Bull upbeat for Singapore glory

Sebastian Vettel put himself on pole position to retake the Formula One lead from Lewis Hamilton after setting the fastest lap in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday.

"I got everything I could out of the auto, everything and more", he added.

"Yesterday was hard, this afternoon was hard but tonight the vehicle just came alive", said Vettel, who looked stunned by his own performance.

When asked what a realistic result would be, Hamilton sounded deflated.

"We remain hopeful. I got everything I could out of the vehicle".

But Vettel produced the goods when it mattered most with a record-breaking lap of one minute and 39.481 seconds to provide the best possible answer to both his and Ferrari's disappointing performance in Italy last time out. (Great work!). He could hardly control his emotions when speaking on the grid moments later, either. I'm still full of adrenaline.

Ferrari were expected to be strong here, with the track playing to the strengths of their car- well balanced on entry and exit and especially strong through slow corners.

"This is a bad track for overtaking - I think the start's an opportunity, the strategy is an opportunity, safety cars, who knows?"

Mercedes will be the ones having a sleepless night this time.

Hamilton's team mate Valtteri Bottas had an even tougher time of it.

His compatriot Kimi Raikkonen was also far off the pace in ninth for Ferrari, ahead of Force India pair Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. Vettel will expect to be able to exploit it on Sunday.

The Red Bulls will take some beating, too.

The previous lap record had belonged to retired world champion Nico Rosberg, who clocked 1:42.584 in qualifying last year, although cars can go faster this year with modifications and wider tyres.

Said Vettel: "I shouted as loud as the fans it was unbelievable". We definitely didn't anticipate Ferrari would be as strong as they were, I thought Red Bull would be as quick as they were but we remained hopeful.

The two Red Bulls went 1-2 in the first qualifying session (Q1), with only 0.053sec separating Verstappen (1:42.010) from Ricciardo (1:42.063).

No wonder the mood in the Mercedes garage was glum.

Beaten not only by both Ferraris but the two Red Bulls as well, it was a frightful case of déjà vu for Mercedes as they were left to lock out the third row of the grid like in 2015.

Vettel will be sleeping more easily.

"Today's announcement gives us the stability we need to move ahead with our chassis and technical programme for 2018 without any further hesitation", said McLaren executive director Zak Brown. "They're in a different place with their cars".

  • Julie Sanders