After the day started with rain and a lot of water on the track before the last free practice, the situation was different for classification. This Saturday (1), Formula 1 even got a little bit of water on the track when defining the starting grid for the Singapore GP, but it wasn’t raining anymore. The start of qualifying took place on intermediate tyres, but soon the track dried up for good. Charles Leclerc got the better of this scenario and won pole position.
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It was, without a doubt, a different classification. Q3, with everyone already on soft tyres, offered the possibility for them to stay longer on the track, without that long pit stop to prepare for the last lap. Thus, the change of hands of the first place was intense. And it ended up in Leclerc’s hand.
This is Leclerc’s ninth pole in 17 weekends of the year. That is, he starts ahead in more than half of the opportunities. Sergio Pérez will be next to the front row, while Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz are close behind. Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly still appear ahead of Max Verstappen. Kevin Magnussen and Yuki Tsunoda complete the top-10.
Verstappen’s situation was curious. The Dutchman was the last driver on the track well after the timer had zeroed and had a clear track. The timing was competitive: he had chances for pole, but it was almost certain that he would jump to the first two rows on the grid. However, shortly before arriving, Red Bull ordered him to return to the pit lane. “Cum! What the fuck is this?”, he asked, just like that. “I don’t understand,” he said. Christian Horner, boss of Red Bull, only replied that he would explain in the garage.
What the factors put in — the weather, the fact that it’s a locked track and where F1 hasn’t been since 2019 — created an opening for strange things. For example, George Russell was eliminated in Q2 and started in 11th. Esteban Ocon, who until now had a lot to do with Alpine at the Marina Bay circuit, will be 18th on the starting grid.
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Check out how the ranking went:
The Saturday of Formula 1 in Singapore started with closed skies and with a wet track due to the heavy rain that happened in the hours before the third and final free practice. Therefore, the practice lasted only 30 minutes and varied between intermediate and extreme wet tires.
The situation stabilized in the following hours. Not that the track reached qualifying time completely dry, but it was on the way and over the course of the hour, if the water didn’t drop again, the slick tires would probably reign supreme. The beginning would be of intermediaries still. The climate remained extremely humid, above 80% humidity, and an ambient temperature of 26°C.
Earlier, in a strange training session due to the circumstances, Charles Leclerc led and had Max Verstappen in second place.
Q1 – Hamilton remains in front, while Ocon fumbles and is eliminated
Qualifying work opened at the right time and with the two Mercedes drivers pulling the line, George Russell in front of Lewis Hamilton. It was just the beginning of a long line, with a lot of people leaving. Lando Norris was the first to warn on the radio that the intermediate tires were correct, as the track was still “very wet”.
Only five drivers had not yet left the pits after the first three minutes, but they all participated in the activity when the clock struck five minutes.
The most competitive first lap came with Charles Leclerc, who led Ferrari to 1:55.054. Soon after, the same Leclerc almost touched the wall at turn five and ended up in the escape area, from which he had to spin to get out.
When he managed to do a normal lap, Max Verstappen started with 1min54s395 and took the lead. Hamilton also rode stronger than Charles, but was about 0s3 behind his rival by the 2021 cup. Ten minutes into Q1, the Haas duo still hadn’t scored any time: both Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen had only installation laps.
And the track conditions? “Still for intermediaries,” Verstappen said after being asked for Red Bull. The energy drinks team, by the way, got into trouble when Sergio Pérez asked why Verstappen was slow in front of him while he was on a fast lap. “We thought you had aborted the comeback,” he replied. Even so, he jumped to third place.
When, with three minutes to go in Q1, the Haas duo finally made a quick turn, they both broke into the top ten for the moment. McLaren was starting to see some concern, as both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were approaching the danger zone.
As eyes turned to the fight against elimination, Leclerc clocked 1min54s222 and became the leader. For a short time, because Hamilton ran in 1min53s161.
The Williams duo had a last-ditch attempt to exit Q1, but failed. Nicholas Latifi had the worst time, while Alexander Albon was 19th. Apart from the two, the race against the other three elimination waves was great.
Valtteri Bottas and Schumacher had walked away, but were pulled back by the improvement of the others. Sebastian Vettel left at the last moment, as well as teammate Lance Stroll, who wasn’t even inside, but walked away for good. Esteban Ocon, however, took Lance’s traffic and did not improve. So, surprisingly, he was eliminated and started in 18th place. “I had no brakes on the way back,” he lamented.
Ricciardo was another unable to escape and ended up in 17th place. Bottas, despite breathing moments earlier, dropped to 16th and also left, while Guanyu Zhou passed with ease. Lando Norris was on the edge, in 15th, but qualified.
Q2 – Russell suffers and ends up eliminated with Mercedes
As in Q1, a large line of cars formed at the exit of the pit-lane moments before the track was cleared. Despite no dry tyres, Leclerc warned that “the track is drying up fast”. Soon after, he clocked a fast lap of 1min52s343.
Verstappen didn’t even come close and went second, 0s380 behind. Pérez, even worse, almost 0s5 in the first round of Q2 laps. This time, Haas didn’t delay the drivers’ entry onto the track, and after less than ten minutes, everyone was on the timesheets.
With less than six minutes to go, the first request for dry tires came. “Can we put on slicks?” Leclerc asked Ferrari, but the team put on another set of green-band tyres. It was Aston Martin, with Vettel and Stroll, that inaugurated the use of slicks: they put on soft tyres.
Hamilton went for another quick lap attempt in Q2 and, despite being left in the middle sector at the Marina Bay track, he still finished 0.348s behind Leclerc. Alfa Romeo also called on Zhou to put on the soft tyres.
It was worth? Stroll slipped and almost went off the track on the warm-up lap, but nothing too serious. He was in ninth place, while Vettel was 11th. But only the two of them and Zhou would really decide the spot with these tires. Favorites to be eliminated, they had nothing to lose. And they didn’t gain anything, because they didn’t even manage to improve the time. Vettel also passed straight through one of the corners.
Thus, Vettel and Zhou were, respectively, placed 14th and 15th. Stroll finished 12th, ahead of Schumacher. The other one eliminated? Russell! The Mercedes driver failed to deliver a final fast lap and will start in 11th place.
Leclerc, Hamilton, Verstappen, Pérez, Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz, Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda, Norris and Magnussen would compete in the last phase of the classification.
Q3 – Leclerc wins and takes pole that passed in the hands of Hamilton and Alonso
As far as the tire organisation, everything changed at the start of Q3. Tsunoda was the only one to come out on intermediate tyres, while all the other eight riders who decided to give the air of grace bet on soft. Magnussen was in the pits, at first, thinking that he would do just one lap.
Hamilton took the lead and was the best in the first round of laps, but Alonso slipped and took the lead. For a short time. Lewis doubled down, went to 1min51s019 and took the lead again.
Verstappen and Pérez followed, respectively 0s3 and 0s7 behind. Unlike the normal classification, the circumstances in this case allowed the drivers to remain on the track for more than ten minutes.
Ferrari did not have such a strong performance on the softs and, at one point, with only three minutes to go, they called Sainz to put on new soft tyres. The Spaniard said no and continued on the track.
It was worth it, at least for Leclerc, because the Monegasque took the lap he wanted and scored 1min49s412.
Pérez was up to 1min49s434, a mere 0s022 slower, while Hamilton was 0s054 off the Monegasque. Sainz was fourth, followed by Alonso, Norris and Gasly.
Verstappen positioned himself to be the last to try and, when he was at the end of the lap that was competitive to at least put him in the first two rows, he heard from Red Bull that he had to return to the pits. “Fuck, what the fuck is this?”, he asked, just like that. “I don’t understand,” he said. Christian Horner, boss of Red Bull, only replied that he would explain in the garage. The championship leader starts in eighth. Magnussen and Tsunoda close the top-10.
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F1 2022, Singapore, Saturday, Marina Bay, Starting Grid:
|two||S PEREZ||Red Bull Honda||1:49,434||+0.022|
|6||L NORRIS||McLaren Mercedes||1:50,584||+1,172|
|7||P GASLY||AlphaTauri Honda||1:51,211||+1,799|
|8||M VERSTAPPEN||Red Bull Honda||1:51,395||+1,983|
|9||K MAGNUSEN||Haas Ferrari||1:51,573||+2,161|
|10||Y TSUNODA||AlphaTauri Honda||1:51,983||+2,571|
|12||L STROL||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:54,211||+4,799|
|13||M SCHUMACHER||Haas Ferrari||1:54,370||+4,958|
|14||S VETTEL||Aston Martin Mercedes||1:54,380||+4,968|
|15||G ZHOU||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:55,518||+6,106|
|16||V BOOTS||Alfa Romeo Ferrari||1:56,083||+6,671|
|20||N LATIFI||Williams Mercedes||1:57,532||+8,120|
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