Lewis Hamilton produced a ‘magic lap’ to beat championship rival Sebastian Vettel for pole position in the Singapore Grand Prix here on Saturday.
Ferrari seemed the faster car all weekend until Hamilton came up with a 1:36.105 in his first run in Q3. Vettel was not able to respond to that and ended third fastest with a 1:36.628.
Max Verstappen, in the Red Bull, was three-tenths faster than the German and will start on the front row with Hamilton.
Hamilton was not able to improve on his remarkable first run but it was enough to provide him with the ideal launchpad for the race on Sunday as he looks to increase the 30-point championship lead over Vettel.
“That lap felt like magic. Don’t know where it came from. I am super overwhelmed,” said Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas was fourth in the other Mercedes, followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo.
Sergio Perez was seventh fastest for Force India while his teammate Esteban Ocon was ninth with Romain Grosjean of Haas sandwiched between them. Nico Hulkenberg of Renault completed the top-10.
Earlier, the drivers who were eliminated in Q1 were Kevin Magnussen, Brendon Hartley, Stoffel Vandoorne, Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll. It was the eighth time in the season that Sirotkin and Stroll of Williams were knocked out in the first session.
What caught most attention was the slow pace of the mighty Mercedes as Bottas and Hamilton set the 12th and 14th fastest times respectively.
However, the reigning champion bounced back quickly in Q2, becoming the first driver to break into the 1:37s before Ricciardo and Verstappen did the same in the Red Bull, followed by Bottas and the two Ferraris of Raikkonen and Vettel.
Charles Leclerc, who will be making his big move from Sauber to Ferrari next year, had a nervy moment when he brushed the wall coming out of Turn 21.
Vettel was caught in the traffic but managed to make the final session rather comfortably. The drivers who missed out after Q2 were Fernando Alonso, Carloz Sainz, Leclerc, Marcus Ericsson and Pierre Gasly.
Alonso, who is into his farewell season, was satisfied with his effort despite not making the top-10 in the McLaren. He will get a free tyre choice tomorrow.