Vettel storms to pole as Mercedes dominance ends

ยฉ XPB 

Sebastian Vettel took Ferrari's first pole position since 2012 as Mercedes' qualifying dominance ended at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The four-time world champion was majestic on his final flying lap to take pole position by more than half a second from Daniel Ricciardo, with Kimi Raikkonen third in the second Ferrari. Daniil Kvyat was fourth in what was a two-team battle for victory, with Mercedes 1.5s off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are used to lining up alongside each other on the front row this season - with Mercedes securing pole at every round so far - but they will start from row three, with Hamilton out qualifying his team-mate by little more than 0.1s.

Valtteri Bottas will start from seventh ahead of Max Verstappen in eighth, with both getting within half a second of Hamilton as Mercedes' dominance mysteriously disappeared. Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean round out the top ten.

Verstappen pulled out an impressive lap to beat the two Mercedes drivers in Q2, but his team-mate Carlos Sainz compromised a number of late laps when he crashed on his final run. Sainz hit the wall with his left rear exiting Turn 19, breaking the suspension and then damaging the front wing against the wall.

With debris on the track and Sainz limping back to the pits, the yellow flags were out in the final sector to stop drivers improving, preventing the two Force Indias and McLarens from improving. Just 0.08s covered Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez in 11th-13th places, while Sainz was 14th ahead of Jenson Button.

The signs were ominous for Mercedes in Q1, when both Hamilton and Rosberg had to resort to using the supersoft tyre to ensure they made it through. Rosberg was fifth quickest and slower than both Vettel and Ricciardo on softs, despite Pirelli's Paul Hembery expecting a 1.5s difference between tyre compounds.

Sauber was left disappointed as a late lap from Button saw both Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson - just 0.1s apart - drop out in the first part of qualifying despite a major aerodynamic upgrade. Pastor Maldonado was half a second adrift of team-mate Romain Grosjean and dropped out, while Will Stevens also outqualified debutant Alexander Rossi in the other Manor by 0.5s.

AS IT HAPPENED: Singapore Grand Prix qualifying

Chris Medland's Singapore Grand Prix preview

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