For much of the practice sessions and the first part of qualifying it looked like the battle for pole was going to be between the two Red Bull drivers.
But in Q3 Vettel absolutely nailed it, setting a blistering lap on his first run and then managing to go even quicker on his second run to take pole with a time of 1:39.491, three-tenths ahead of Max Verstappen, who’ll join him on the front row.
Daniel Ricciardo will line up third with Kimi Raikkonen down in fourth. His best lap was almost six tenths slower than his teammates, showing just what a sensational effort Vettel put in.
In the build-up to this weekend, much was being made over how Mercedes would perform given its past form on twisty circuits this year and at Singapore in general. The answer was not brilliant – Hamilton and Bottas could only muster fifth and sixth as neither driver had an answer to the pace of the Ferraris or Red Bulls.
Nico Hulkenberg continued his and Renault’s good form, whilst both McLaren-Honda’s made it into the top 10 on a track which suits the MCL32. Force India had a slightly disappointing session with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon only managing 12th and 14th, whilst Williams also continued with its struggles on street circuits, qualifying ahead of only the two Saubers.
Thankfully, unlike Monza, the qualifying order should also be the grid order as there are no grid penalties to jumble it up. Well, Marcus Ericsson has one, but he’s starting last anyway.
The grid sets up an intriguing race for tomorrow and the Mercedes drivers look like they could genuinely struggle to finish any better than they start – well, maybe one position higher once Verstappen’s car inevitably breaks down.