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Singapore GP: Charles Leclerc takes pole in thrilling qualifying as Max Verstappen finishes eighth

Charles Leclerc edges out Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton for pole in thrilling Singapore GP qualifying; Max Verstappen left fuming after being told to abort his final flying lap and finishing eighth; Watch Sunday's race live at 1pm on Sky Sports F1, with build-up from 11.30am

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Max Verstappen was furious after being told to abort his final lap in Q3 at the Singapore Grand Prix

Charles Leclerc edged out Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton for pole in a thrilling Singapore Grand Prix qualifying session, as Max Verstappen was left fuming after finishing eighth.

The session built to a dramatic finale under the lights on Formula 1's return to the Marina Bay Street Circuit as times continued to improve on a drying track, with Perez and Hamilton both within just over half a tenth of Leclerc's time of 1:49.412 for Ferrari.

Verstappen, whose track position made him the last driver to have the opportunity to set a time on the improving surface, appeared on course to challenge for pole until Red Bull bizarrely ordered him to abort the lap.

The Dutchman delivered an expletive-laden rant at his team over radio asking what had happened, with confirmation coming after the session that continuing would have left him with an insufficient amount of fuel on board to provide the required one-litre sample to the FIA for scrutineering.

The mishap means it's highly unlikely that Verstappen will be able to take his first opportunity to win this season's world championship in Sunday's race, with the Red Bull driver needing a victory and for both Leclerc and Perez to finish well below their starting positions for that to happen.

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Charles Leclerc takes pole for the Singapore Grand Prix after Max Verstappen aborts his final flying lap and will start only eighth!

Carlos Sainz was fourth for Ferrari, with Alpine's Fernando Alonso, McLaren's Lando Norris and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly also ahead of Verstappen at the chequered flag.

George Russell suffered a hugely disappointing qualifying, especially given Mercedes team-mate Hamilton's speed, as he finished 11th after being knocked out in Q2.

Also See:

Singapore GP Qualifying: Top 10
1) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
2) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
3) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
5) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
6) Lando Norris, McLaren
7) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
8) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
9) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
10) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

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Anthony Davidson is at the SkyPad to analyse Max Verstappen's aborted final run compared to Charles Leclerc's pole lap in Singapore.

Leclerc denies Perez, Hamilton

After heavy rain for much of the day in Singapore, which had seen final practice take place on a wet track, qualifying began with damp patches remaining and all of the cars on intermediate tyres.

It was only at the very end of Q2, when some cars - unsuccessfully - tried out slicks, before all the front-runners made the switch at the beginning of Q3.

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Charles Leclerc hopes he can build on his pole position and take victory in the Singapore Grand Prix

For much of the session, and the weekend as a whole, Leclerc had appeared to be competing with Verstappen and Hamilton for pole.

However, the rapidly improving nature of the track for slick tyres in the final shootout brought several other cars into contention, with the likes of Perez, Sainz and Alonso showing strong pace.

It ultimately looked as though it would come down to timing, with the last of the contenders to complete their flying lap likely to have the best shot at pole.

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Lewis Hamilton had mixed feelings after coming so close to Mercedes first pole position of the season

That appeared as though it wouldn't suit Leclerc, as he took pole in the closing stages, before Perez slotted in behind him.

That appeared to leave Hamilton, who had topped the timesheet for much of Q3, with a brilliant chance to take a first pole position of the season.

He produced the fastest middle sector of the session to enhance his chances but made mistakes in the final sector to leave himself an agonisingly small margin off the cars on the front row.

What happened to Verstappen?

However, the car with the best chance of pole appeared to be Verstappen, after he had been told to abort one attempt at a flying lap in an apparent attempt to enhance his track position.

The move appeared to have been successful as he crossed the line later than any of his rivals, and then drove a lap that was looking like it would be good enough to take pole from Leclerc.

However, he then slowed down and was seen pulling into the pit lane, with the scenes shocking onlookers who wondered what was going on.

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Max Verstappen was 'super frustrated' after being told to abort his final lap in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, which resulted in a P8 finish

The rant Verstappen unleashed over team radio suggested he was perhaps the most mystified of anyone at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

"I felt good on the lap before, but then they told me to abort, so okay, we did that, and then on the final lap they told me to box and I realised what was going to happen," Verstappen said afterwards.

"We ran out of fuel. It's just incredibly frustrating and shouldn't happen. When you under-fuel it or you don't plan to do six laps, then at least you track it throughout the session that you're not going to make it.

"We should have seen that way earlier. I'm not happy at all at the moment.

"Of course, it's always a team effort. I can make mistakes and the team can make mistakes, but it's never acceptable."

Brake issue hampers Russell | Ocon makes surprise Q1 exit

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There was a big shock in qualifying as George Russell failed to make it into Q3 in Singapore

The notable absentee from Q3 was the second Mercedes of Russell, who revealed after the session that he had been hampered by a brake issue.

Russell has delivered a remarkably consistent debut season at Mercedes, finishing all but one race in the top five and only missing out on Q3 on two occasions, therefore it came as a major surprise when he was so far off Hamilton's pace.

"I was struggling with something to do with the brakes and the engine in P1 that was pushing me into the corners and it kind of felt like I had a throttle on as I was going in and I didn't," Russell said.

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George Russell was frustrated after failing to make it into Q3 due to a problem with the car's brakes in qualifying

"The tyres felt good but I just couldn't get round any corners.

"It is such a shame, we probably couldn't have done any better in Q3 because we couldn't resolve the problem."

Earlier there had also been a surprise exit in Q1, with Alpine's Esteban Ocon finishing down in 18th after failing to get his brakes working properly on his final flying lap.

He was joined in the bottom five by McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo, leaving the teams battling for fourth place in the constructors' championship relying on Alonso and Norris to deliver points on Sunday

Singapore GP Qualifying Timesheet

Driver Team Time
1) Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:49.412
2) Sergio Perez Red Bull +0.022
3) Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +0.054
4) Carlos Sainz Ferrari +0.171
5) Fernando Alonso Alpine +0.554
6) Lando Norris McLaren +1.172
7) Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri +1.799
8) Max Verstappen Red Bull +1.983
9) Kevin Magnussen Haas +2.161
10) Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri +2.571
Out in Q2
11) George Russell Mercedes 1:54.012
12) Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:54.211
13) Mick Schumacher Haas 1:54.370
14) Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:54.380
15) Zhou Guanyu Alfa Romeo 1:55.518
Out in Q1
16) Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo 1:56.083
17) Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:56.226
18) Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:56.337
19) Alex Albon Williams 1:56.985
20) Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:57.532

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