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Vettel surprised, pumped up after charge to Singapore GP pole

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Sebastian Vettel was left running high on adrenaline after producing a stunning final lap in Formula 1 qualifying to take pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night.

After finishing 11th in practice on Friday, Vettel’s chances of extending his impressive record in Singapore appeared to be fading, only for the Ferrari driver to burst back into life in qualifying.

Vettel trailed Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in both Q1 and Q2, but turned things around when it mattered in Q3 to beat the Dutchman to pole position by three-tenths of a second.

Vettel let his emotions go with a long series of shouts and cheers over team radio after his pole lap, and admitted after the session he was surprised by the time he found.

“I don’t know, I struggled also this afternoon. I shouted as loud as [the crowd], it was unbelievable,” Vettel said.

“I’m still full of adrenaline so maybe whatever I say doesn’t make any sense but I love this track.

“The car was tricky but it came alive and it got better and better as the night progressed, so really happy we got it done.”

Despite being the 49th pole of an illustrious F1 career, the lap was widely regarded as being one of the finest for Vettel, coming at a time when the title fight with Lewis Hamilton (who qualified P5) is on a knife-edge.

When asked by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton where the pole lap ranked for Vettel among his best, he said: “I don’t know. I think I need to calm down first.

“I’m very, very happy. That was amazing. It’s an amazing track if you feel the car is coming alive and you can do what you want to.

“I knew we had it in us, it was a bit of a struggle to get there but now I’m just happy.”

With Red Bull drivers Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo both running Vettel close in qualifying, the Ferrari driver is braced for a tough fight in the race.

“I’m happy we got the car where it needed to be and we take it from there. Tomorrow is a long race but these guys are very, very quick,” Vettel said.

“We had a difficult night yesterday but a better night today and I’m sure the car will be like today tomorrow.

“So it will be better but for sure it will be a close race.”

The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.