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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.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.