Leclerc pips Pérez for pole in stunning Singapore qualifying session

1 October 2022, Singapore – Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has snatched his second-straight pole position at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, setting him up for success in Sunday’s 61-lap Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2022.

On pole position for the 19th time in his career and ninth time this year, the Monégasque closed out Q3 just 0.022 seconds faster than Red Bull rival Sergio Pérez in a thrilling qualifying session that had the crowds on the edge of their seats as the clock ticked down.

“I’m here to win and the only thing I want to do is win tomorrow,” said Leclerc, who admitted that he was frustrated to miss out on victory in 2019, following a Ferrari team strategy that elevated his then-teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Pérez, who missed out on pole by less than the time taken to blink, blamed his mistake at turn 13. Nonetheless, the Mexican starts from the front row for the fifth time in his F1 career, and first since Belgium.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes closed out the top-three, which were covered by just 0.054 seconds.

"I was pushing so hard, it was so close!” said Hamilton, whose young teammate George Russell was a surprise Q2 dropout. “I really thought maybe with a perfect lap, we could be fighting for first place. I just didn't have the grip on the final lap, but I'm grateful to be on the second row."

However, while one Ferrari topped the timesheets, the other was stuck in fourth, with Carlos Sainz unable to reprise his FP2-topping pace, and finished just over a tenth down on Hamilton.

Two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso closed out the top-five, with the Alpine driver again one of the stars of qualifying – wringing the neck of his A522 to reach fifth in both Q2 and Q3. It was a world away from his teammate, Esteban Ocon, who dropped out of Q1 for the first time since Imola.

McLaren’s Lando Norris, and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly, also delivered standout laps to go sixth and seventh on the grid respectively. Both ahead of the reigning F1 World Champion, Max Verstappen who was left fuming on the radio after his Red Bull team told him to abort his final lap to ensure that he retained minimum fuel levels to avoid post-qualifying penalties.

A Verstappen fightback drive to take victory in tomorrow’s race is not out of the question, given three of his last four wins have come from well beyond the front row – including Hungary (P10), Belgium (P14) and Italy (P7). His second-straight title is on the line for the first time this season.

The top-10 was closed out by Haas veteran Kevin Magnussen, and AlphaTauri’s Singapore rookie Yuki Tsunoda, who counts the Marina Bay event as one of his home races given its proximity to Japan.

All in all, a stunning grid promises a stunning race with a lot on the line – as the sport returns to the home of Formula 1 night racing