Leclerc nearly hit wall ‘two or three times’ on pole lap

Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc thought he was destined to hit a wall multiple times during a frantic pole lap at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver took his third straight pole of the season, and fifth in total in the 2019 Formula 1 season, with a 1:36.217s lap around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton came up 0.191s short when he took the chequered flag after Leclerc, with whom he will share the front row.

Leclerc said that a suboptimal first flyer in Qualifying 3, when he put him second but was still 0.354s slower than team-mate Sebastian Vettel, spurred him on for his second run.

“It was quite a crazy lap,” recalled the Monegasque driver.

“The first one I compromised it. I started the lap too close to Lewis and that compromised the second sector and then I had quite a bit of pressure to perform on the last lap so I gave it all.

“There were quite a bit of mistakes, I lost the car quite a few times and I’ve seen myself in the wall at least twice or three times in the lap, but it felt amazing, the car was great.

“Friday was a very difficult day for me and to come here in qualifying and do the pole position feels absolutely amazing.”

While the second-year F1 driver is on a hot streak having also won the last two races, those results came on power-sensitive circuits and Ferrari was not expected to be competitive with Mercedes and Red Bull Racing in Singapore.

“Very surprised, because even though we knew there was a bit more to come yesterday we did not expect to challenge neither the Mercedes nor the Red Bulls,” he said of the Scuderia’s pace.

“It’s quite a big surprise for the whole team but it just proves how good a job they have done back at the factory and today it’s also thanks to them if we are on pole.”

Vettel is set to start from third position having not been able to improve on the 1:36.437s which he banked before the mid-session lull.

The four-time world champion aborted his second push lap due to a messy run through the Singapore streets, leaving him with mixed feelings.

“(Q3) started off very good and then, the last run, I think already in sector one, lost a little bit and was playing catch-up, and trying to take more and more risks throughout the lap which didn’t pay off,” explained Vettel.

“I think, overall, it’s a good result; first and third for the team is great.

“I think it wasn’t the track where we expected to be so strong, so happy with that but obviously not happy with the very end of Q3.

“I think the car was good today and pole was up for grasp – but let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Race start is set for tonight at 2210 AEST.

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