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Vettel beats Verstappen to Singapore GP pole with Q3 stunner

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Sebastian Vettel produced one of the stand-out qualifying laps of his Formula 1 career to beat Max Verstappen to pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday night for Ferrari.

Verstappen had been vying to become F1’s youngest ever pole-sitter in his final qualifying session as a teenager, and looked poised to do so after topping both Q1 and Q2 for Red Bull.

However, Vettel was able to bounce back for Q3, taking provisional pole ahead of Verstappen with his first run before finding yet more time on his last flying lap.

Vettel’s final time of 1:39.491 marked the fastest ever lap around the Marina Bay Street Circuit, giving him his second pole of the year, as well acting as a big victory in the title fight with Lewis Hamilton.

Championship leader Hamilton had a difficult day in the office, ending up fifth overall ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas as both Mercedes drivers struggled to dial in their cars and match Red Bull or Ferrari.

Both Verstappen and Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo were left somewhat disappointed after finishing second and third, having dominated in practice, but nevertheless look in the fight for victory.

Just 24 hours after announcing their break-up for 2018, McLaren and Honda enjoyed a rare high moment under the lights in Singapore by qualifying eighth and ninth, albeit rather aptly behind Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg. And naturally, the other driver in the McLaren, Honda, Toro Rosso and Renault news whirlwind, Carlos Sainz Jr. completed the top 10 for Toro Rosso.

Jolyon Palmer’s weekend of heartache continued in qualifying as he missed out on a place in Q3, finishing P11. Both Force India drivers struggled, with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon taking P12 and P14 respectively, split by Daniil Kvyat. Romain Grosjean wound up 15th for Haas.

Kevin Magnussen missed out on a place in Q2 by one-tenth of a second, finishing 16th overall ahead of Felipe Massa, who was limited to just one run after hitting the wall early and sustaining a puncture.

Massa’s Williams teammate Lance Stroll followed in P18, while the Sauber pair of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson propped up the timesheets, more than three seconds off the pace.

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

F1: Lewis Hamilton takes pole position at rain-soaked Styrian GP

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SPIELBERG, Austria — Six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton showed he’s still the best driver in wet conditions, keeping his composure on a rain-drenched track to take pole position Saturday for the Styrian Grand Prix.

It was the Mercedes driver’s record-extending 89th career pole in F1 and particularly impressive as he first beat Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s mark and then his own leading mark on his final lap.

“That was awesome,” Hamilton said after placing 1.216 seconds ahead of Verstappen (who led practice Friday) and 1.398 clear of McLaren driver Carlos Sainz Jr.

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Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas qualified fourth after taking pole position and winning last Sunday’s Austrian GP.

It was another dismal day for Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel 10th and Charles Leclerc 11th.

Driving rain washed out the third and final practice session at midday and threatened qualifying altogether. But the cars managed to finally get out onto the Red Bull Ring at around 3:45 p.m. local time (1345 GMT) even though rain was still lashing down.

In the event of a complete washout, qualifying would have been moved to Sunday morning.

With drivers told the rain would soon get heavier, they were advised to post a solid time quickly in order to get into the second part of qualifying.

Verstappen said, “I can’t see a thing,” and Romain Grosjean slid off track into gravel.

Some unexpected names popped up at the top of the F1 leaderboard, before order was restored as Lewis Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen swapped leading times.

“Leave me to it,” Hamilton said over radio, trying to keep his concentration with water spraying everywhere in front and around him.

With two minutes left in Q1, Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi lost control of his Alfa Romeo, which swerved sideways and then backward into a crash barrier. His car had to be lifted off the track.

The rain fell so heavily throughout the morning that firefighters had to remove excess water from the roof of one empty hospitality building. The race is being held without fans because of the novel coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic.

The race is changing names from last week but still is being held at the same track in Spielberg, which is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.