Ferrari’s Leclerc takes pole in Singapore as RedBull’s Verstappen forced to abort lap

Max Verstappen watched the course for pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix when his Red Bull team abandoned his lap with only a few seconds left in qualifying due to a fuel problem

Max Verstappen watched the course for pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix when his Red Bull team abandoned his lap with only a few seconds left in qualifying due to a fuel problem

Max Verstappen looked his way to pole position at the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday when his Red Bull team abandoned his lap with only a few seconds left in qualifying due to a fuel problem, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc took pole instead. Got it.

“Why? Why? Why?” Verstappen asked when to call the box, before removing an expletive.

He soon found out why.

“He asked me to do boxing and then I realized what was going to happen. We ran out of fuel,” Verstappen told broadcaster Sky. “It’s incredibly depressing and shouldn’t happen… At least you (should) track that throughout the season knowing you’re not going to make it. We should have seen that happen earlier.”

Verstappen is eighth, although he has won from 14th on the grid this season in Belgium.

He was well clear of Leclerc at the time of the split but Red Bull called him because he was about to go under fuel limit rules. Drivers can be disqualified if they do not have enough fuel left in the tank, which means starting from the last position.

Still, he was clearly unhappy with what happened.

“I’m not happy at all at the moment, I know it’s always a team effort and I can make mistakes, and teams can make mistakes, but that’s never acceptable,” he said. “Of course you learn from it, but it’s really bad. It shouldn’t happen.”

Leclerc took the season-leading ninth pole and finished .022 ahead of Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Pérez and .054 ahead of Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

“It was incredibly close, a really exciting season,” said Hamilton, who has a record 103 career poles but none this year. “A really clean qualifying session. It was so difficult to perfect that lap.”

Perez is confident he can challenge for victory.

“It’s a chance to attack Charles from the start tomorrow and I’ll go for the win,” Perez said. “It is very disappointing to miss the 200th but at the end of the day I think he did a fantastic job. very happy.”

But Verstappen’s grid position deals a blow to his chances of wrapping up the title on a difficult road track for overtaking on Sunday. This gives Leclerc a good chance of winning his fourth race of the season.

“I thought we wouldn’t get pole, but it paid off and I’m really happy,” said Leclerc. “It was really, really special, the road tracks have super on every qualifying limit.”

Leclerc called it “it was a matter of time before Max got his title”.

Verstappen leads Leclerc by 116 points and will claim his second straight title only if he scores 22 points more than his most realistic challenger Leclerc.

He would have to win to take the title on Sunday, as well as two other scenarios involving Leclerc. If Verstappen wins, Leclerc can finish no higher than ninth; If Verstappen wins and earns bonus points for the fastest lap, Leclerc can finish no more than eighth.

The race buildup has seen a rift between teams over an alleged 2021 budget cap violation by Red Bull, which prompted an angry reaction from Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.

Also, shortly after the end of third practice at the Marina Bay Circuit, Hamilton was called to appear before the stewards for a possible jewelry infringement.

The seven-time F1 champion was later cleared following an investigation into an alleged violation of Appendix L, Chapter III of the FIA’s International Sporting Code, which includes a ban on wearing jewelry. The summons related to Hamilton’s nose stud, which he had previously removed when the FIA’s jewelry ban came into force.

Hamilton said that before qualifying began he explained to the stewards that he needed to keep the studs inside due to complications associated with a blood blister on the nose. Hamilton said he had a doctor’s letter showing all this and the stewards accepted his explanation after reviewing the footage.

Meanwhile, two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso will start on Sunday in his record 350th F1 race from fifth place behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr., one more than 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen.

McLaren’s Lando Norris was sixth and Alfatauri’s Pierre Gasly qualified in seventh place, ahead of Verstappen, Kevin Magnussen (Haas) and Yuki Tsunoda (Alfatauri) in tenth.

Williams driver Alex Albon, just three weeks after being hospitalized with appendicitis and then suffering respiratory failure, finished 19th.

He exited Q1 along with Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon – who have 19 F1 victories combined. Bottas starts in 16th place, with Ricciardo in 17th and Ocon in 18th.

Earlier on Saturday, Leclerc led the rain-hit third and final practice ahead of Verstappen. Half the session was lost as Marshall washed away water from the 5-kilometre (3.1-mile) track, which had mostly dried up for qualifying.

In the middle of Q2, some drivers switched to faster slick tyres, while others remained on middlemen. Mercedes driver George Russell started in 11th place after exiting Q2 with four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin).