Leclerc takes pole as Max gets mad in chaotic qualifying session
Verstappen rages at team when forced to abort final lap at Singapore GP
Charles Leclerc will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole position after edging out Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton in a sensational conclusion to a wet-dry qualifying session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Following a rain-hit final practice, conditions improved significantly during the build-up to qualifying and, while intermediates featured in Q1 and Q2, slicks were used across the board for the fastest laps of the decisive Q3 phase.
When it came to the pole position shootout, it was Leclerc who emerged on top amid a flurry of late gains as drivers pushed the limits amid ever-improving grip levels. His 1m 49.412s put him just 0.022s clear of Perez and 0.054s ahead of Hamilton.
Max Verstappen had to abandon a final lap that could have put him in the mix as he was called into the pits by his Red Bull team – leading to a sweary radio message as the reigning world champion took a lowly eighth place.
"WHY?" screamed Max Verstappen on team radio after his team told him to box.
"I don't get it, mate. What the f*** is this about?"
The Dutchman was furious to be asked to abort his final lap when he was set to take pole -- but there was a risk he didn't have enough fuel for scrutineering and so his team played it safe.
He will start tomorrow's race in eighth, and his hopes of securing the world championship tomorrow have been greatly diminished. He leads the championship race by a whopping 116 points.
Carlos Sainz was fourth in the other Ferrari, while Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, McLaren’s Lando Norris and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly all capitalised on Verstappen’s drama to take positions five to seven.
Behind Verstappen, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen and the other AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda rounded out the top 10.
Valtteri Bottas fell at the first qualifying hurdle after a late Schumacher improvement demoted him, while Daniel Ricciardo suffered his third Q1 exit in seven weekends, taking 17th.
Sebastian Vettel, the last winner of the Singapore Grand Prix when he was still with Ferrari in 2019, could only manage 14th in his final night race. The German, who is retiring after this season, holds the record for most wins in Singapore (five) ahead of Hamilton (four).