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.