By Robert Haile
A wet-dry qualifying was finished off in spectacular style as Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc beat Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to pole by 0.022 seconds.
The Singapore street circuit, always a tricky proposition for the teams, was even more problematic as the rain fell for the final free practice leading to a damp track for the first session.
Leclerc said: “With track conditions changing throughout, it was a tricky but exciting qualifying. We were very quick on the Intermediates in Q1 and Q2, then had to start again from zero on the slicks in Q3.
“There were some damp spots of tarmac here and there and you really had to adapt to the track evolution.
“The feeling in the car has been great all weekend and I look forward to racing here again tomorrow.”
Coming out on the intermediate tyres for the first qualifying session current Championship leader Max Verstappen blasted his way to the front burying any sign that issues off track would faze him.
At the other end both Williams’ drivers went out with Alex Albon finishing ahead of the outgoing Nicolas Latifi on his return as the pair start at the back.
In the Constructors Championship the battle between Alpine and McLaren took a turn as Esteban Ocon complained of brake issues on his Alpine as he finished eighteenth with Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren just ahead.
Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas was the other driver to miss out in sixteenth.
Heading into the second session the track continued to evolve with dry patches appearing the question turned to when to put slick tyres on.
Leclerc asked after his first run but was sent back out on intermediate tyres, Aston Martin made the step sending Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll out with the fastest tyre on.
The gamble didn’t work as Stroll finished twelfth and Vettel fourteenth with Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo also switching but will start in fifteenth.
Haas’ Mick Schumacher will start in thirteenth as Mercedes’ George Russell was a surprise elimination in eleventh.
Into the top ten shoot out and Red Bull’s Verstappen and Perez followed the Aston Martin’s tactic but were still off the pace but showed the way forward.
After the first run the track showed it was time and the lead changed hands with Leclerc taking pole off Perez and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz took fourth with Fernando Alonso’s Alpine beating Lando Norris’ McLaren to fifth as AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took seventh.
Verstappen will start in eighth, not outside the possibility of another win, after being told to pull out of a possible pole taking lap as the car was under fuelled.
Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda finalised the top ten.
Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying
- Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- Sergio Perez (Red Bull)
- Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)
- Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
- Lando Norris (McLaren)
- Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
- Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
- Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)
- George Russell (Mercedes)
- Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)
- Mick Schumacher (Haas)
- Sebastian Vettel (Aston Marin)
- Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)
- Vallteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)
- Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)
- Esteban Ocon (Alpine)
- Alex Albon (Williams)
- Nicholas Latifi (Williams)