The Ferrari driver picked up his second win of the year at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July but the dominant form of Briton Lewis Hamilton has allowed the Mercedes driver to open up a 74- point advantage over Vettel with six races remaining. Red Bull’s Daniel Riccardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen started second and third, respectively, and for every single lap of the Grand Prix, would stay in thoses positions.
Mercedes’ 15-month domination of Formula One qualifying came to a shuddering halt on Saturday when Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel snatched pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix.
His championship lead over Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who finished fourth, was cut from 53 to 41 points – 252 vs. 211 – with Vettel a further eight points back on 203.
Vettel’s first pole position since Brazil 2013 also snapped a qualifying dry spell for Ferrari stretching back to Germany 2012.
“The guys ahead have been quicker all weekend, so you have to assume that is going to be the same tomorrow, but I go with the mentality of trying to win”. After a lengthy investigation Hamilton’s win, his seventh of the campaign, stood. “In the second stint, I was dictating the pace”.
“The goal is to still win the race but it’s very hard to overtake here and the others, particularly the Red Bulls, are incredibly quick through the long runs”, Hamilton said.
“I know it’s only Saturday and the main job is coming tomorrow but I had to enjoy the moment when I heard that we’d made it. It was looking pretty good, right from the off – and from this morning”.
“These tires for some reason aren’t working on our auto “, Hamilton said.
Vettel described the intruder as “crazy” while Ricciardo, who was starting to inch closer to the front, said the introduction of the safety auto cost him any chance of winning.
“I should have known he was mental”, the 2009 world champion said over the team radio after losing part of his front wing in the incident with the error-prone Lotus driver.
And that means the dream he has had since he was nine to match the race victories of his idol Ayrton Senna may have to be put on hold.
Behind the main title contenders, there was a superb but in the end controversial drive by 17-year-old Max Verstappen who carved his way through the field from the back of the grid to finish eighth, but defied an order from his Toro Rosso team to allow teammate Carlo Sainz past in the closing stages. “When they started to pull away, I knew it was over”.
“I don’t remember another time in my Formula One career where something like this has happened, where we have not changed anything on the auto but we are a second and a half down”.