Hamilton snatches pole in Singapore

"I think overall we were not fast enough", Vettel said. "It was a long race". It felt like the longest race of my life.

"What a day, what a weekend". "I feel we have stopped too early", he said, as a few spots of rain began to tumble around the circuit. "It's one of the best laps I can remember".

"I should have been able to hold the line but I just couldn't match his speed".

An early safety vehicle and subsequent restart was easily dealt with.

Asked what Mercedes is doing better than his Ferrari team, Sebastian Vettel chose not to go into detail.

Dutchman Verstappen lapped in 1:39.912 to edge out Vettel by 0.085 seconds but the German will be looking for an improved third practice session and qualification on Saturday as he seeks to rein in Hamilton with seven rounds remaining.

"Max put up a good fight", he acknowledged.

Vettel then botched qualifying in Hungary, again in the rain, as Hamilton took pole and won to stretch his series lead.

"I was a little but unlucky with the traffic, these guys (Haas' Romain Grosjean and Williams' Sergey Sirotkin) were moving and it was hard to follow", Hamilton added. "These guys were moving around".

Save for Verstappen nearly running into the rear of Hamilton's Mercedes when they were held up under blue flags by a quarrel between Romain Grosjean and Sergey Sirotkin, the reigning champion was rarely challenged and his seventh win of 2018 will surely now put a fifth world title to the forefront of his thoughts.

The Perth native, a big fan of Singaporean cuisine, was the picture of excitement, exclaiming "wow, this looks actually really nice" when the two huge crabs were served to them.

"Even when the light panels came on the drivers weren't really responding so it made it very, very tough".

The most physically demanding race of the season often leaves the drivers poached post-race, while the tyres undergo plenty of stress around the 23 corners of Marina Bay.

"That was tricky but after that it was okay".

"It gets your hairs standing up for a second and then it's back to business".

Grosjean received a five-second penalty and two penalty points on his licence for ignoring the blue flags to indicate that slower drivers are in front of lead racers.

"Going into Q3 I felt the auto was working really well and didn't have anything to complain about, so when I saw second on the board I was actually quite surprised given the problems I had".

Verstappen also sprang something of a surprise to finish just behind Hamilton, narrowly missing out on becoming the youngest ever pole-sitter in Formula One but the 20-year-old was delighted with his performance.

"I don't think there was a moment in the lap that was wide".

"I've drilled that into them many times, and I think he completely forgot about it".

  • Salvatore Jensen