Leclerc ‘lost control three times’ on wild Singapore pole lap
It was a lap that will live long in the memory. Ferrari didn’t expect to be strong in Singapore. Neither did their rivals. But Charles Leclerc delivered a stunning final effort in qualifying to snatch pole, despite admitting on team radio that he felt he'd lost control as many as three times over the course of the lap...
Sebastian Vettel was the frontrunner after the first runs of Q3 in Marina Bay, but he after he made an error on his second run and returned to the pits, opening the door for Leclerc to deliver an aggressive lap, that looked like it was right on the limit throughout.
"Oh my god! Look at the lap. I lost control, I think, three times in the lap!” exclaimed the Monegasque as he took an unlikely third successive pole position, out-qualifying Vettel for the eighth straight race in the process.
Speaking to ex-F1 driver Paul di Resta after climbing out of his car, Leclerc added: “I'm extremely happy about today. If you look at the lap it was a good lap, a very good lap, but there were some moments where I thought I'd lost the car that I took back.
“I want to thank team so much for what they have done. We came here knowing it would be a difficult track for us but the team have done an amazing job to bring the package we needed. And I’m extremely happy to be on pole tomorrow.”
I didn’t feel comfortable in car, but I worked hard and today it paid off so I’m very happy
Ferrari brought an update package, including a new nose, to Singapore as they continue to battle to get on top of the deficiencies of the SF90, which include weaker pace in slow corners. That package appears to have made a big difference.
The Prancing Horse were off the pace on Friday, as pre-weekend favourites Mercedes and Red Bull impressed, but good work overnight meant they were in much stronger shape come Saturday – something which Leclerc admitted the team weren’t expecting.
“I’m very surprised because even though we knew there was a bit more to come [after Friday], we didn’t expect to challenge Mercedes or Red Bull. It’s a surprise, but it shows how much they have done back at the factory.
“We brought some new bits which worked properly, which was good to see, as it’s not always the case but it was this weekend. We had a very tough Friday. Yesterday was definitely not my day. I didn’t feel comfortable in car, but I worked hard and today it paid off so I’m very happy.”
It’s a relief because at least we have identified the weaknesses and we are addressing them
Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto admitted it was a “relief” their update package had worked as it proves they are moving in the right direction in terms of ironing out their weaknesses.
“We’ve got all the data so we know we know where we are,” he said. “That’s even better than we hoped today. It’s important to know that we are developing the car in the right direction because that will be useful as well for next year, which certainly will count.
“After the first wins in Spa and Monza certainly there was a great boost in the team, everybody was coming here hoping somehow to do something special and I think today we did it.
“It’s a relief because at least we have identified the weaknesses and we are addressing them. I still believe that the others are very strong.”
The omens for a third successive victory for Leclerc look good, too, as the last three dry-weather Singapore Grands Prix have seen the drivers who qualified first, second and third finish in those same positions….