Sebastian Vettel stormed to Ferrari’s first pole position in over three years as Mercedes’ perfect streak of pole positions in 2015 came to an end in Singapore.
After setting the pace during the final practice session on Saturday evening, Vettel carried his good form through to qualifying as night fell to score his first pole position since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix.
A fastest lap of 1:43.885 in Q3 saw Vettel take pole by half a second ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen as Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were forced to settle for fifth and sixth place respectively.
Mercedes struggled for pace on both the soft and super-soft tires in qualifying, forcing them to take an extra set of both compounds whilst Ferrari and Red Bull were able to relax in Q1 and Q2.
In Q3, Hamilton wrung every last tenth out of his Mercedes W06 Hybrid, but his time of 1:45.300 was only good enough for fifth, 1.4 seconds behind Vettel at the front.
It marks the first race in 2015 that Mercedes has not started on pole position, and the first time since Vettel’s last pole that a Mercedes-powered car was not P1 in qualifying.
For Ferrari, the result marked its first pole position in over three years, its last being in the wet qualifying session for the 2012 German Grand Prix. The last time the team scored pole position in the dry was five years ago at the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix.
Daniil Kvyat followed Vettel, Ricciardo and Raikkonen home in P4, finishing ahead of the two Mercedes drivers. Valtteri Bottas qualified seventh for Williams with his sole Q3 run, beating Max Verstappen in the Toro Rosso and Williams teammate Felipe Massa. Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten for Lotus.
Carlos Sainz Jr. brought Q2 to an early end when he clipped the wall at turn 19, prompting the marshals to show yellow flags through the final sector due to the debris on track. This stopped Nico Hulkenberg from improving his time, leaving him 11th ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. Sergio Perez finished 13th in the second Force India, two places behind his teammate, whilst Sainz and Jenson Button ended up P14 and P15.
Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson failed to live up to Sauber’s improved practice form as they were both knocked out in Q1. A late lap from Button dumped Nasr into the dropzone alongside Ericsson, meaning that they will start 16th and 17th on Sunday. Pastor Maldonado finished two-tenths of a second further back in P18.
Alexander Rossi’s first qualifying session in F1 saw him qualify 20th, half a second behind teammate Will Stevens. However, the American gained more experience behind the wheel of the Manor car ahead of his grand prix debut on Sunday.
The Singapore Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET on Sunday.