Sainz takes Singapore pole as Red Bull struggle

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Singapore, Marina Bay Street Circuitsg

The prancing horse shone on the lit tracks of Singapore with Carlos Sainz taking his second consecutive pole position after doing the same in Monza. Mercedes's Russell split the Ferraris while Red Bull struggled and face an uphill battle on Sunday.

Sargeant was the first to record a timed lap in the Williams featuring a special and iconic Gulf livery. Needless to say he was quickly surpassed by the cars following up behind him with Norris emerging fastest at the moment that the first 10 times were on the board.

Charles Leclerc was up next to take the lead while his team mate Carlos Sainz, who appears to slightly have the upper hand on Leclerc this weekend so far was 4 tenths down with his first flyer.

Most drivers did a cool down lap after the first flyer to then go again while others also needed one warm-up lap after the outlap to be able to get the tyres up to their ideal working temperature.

Halfway into the session the worries for Red Bull Racing has already faded as Verstappen positioned himself second, right in between the Ferraris making the top three at the time separated by just 0.067s. Russell was 4th followed by Norris, Perez, Alonso, Hamilton, Gasly and Lawson.

For the final minutes the Alfa Romeo and Williams driver in particular needed to find improvements, just like Lance Stroll who sat only 16th and was 8 tenths down on his Spanish team mate.

The track evolved rapidly however and literally everybody went out again to ensure going through and feel the condtiions for Q2. Testimony of the improvement is Tsunoda's time that beat all with Perez, Hulkenberg, Lawson, Magnussen, Russell, Ocon all improving towards a time better than what Sainz had posted earlier.

Stroll, similarly desperate for an improvement didn't manage to complete his lap as he took too much kerb on the outside of the penultimate corner, therefore destabilizing his car and sending it into a violent crash that destroyed the entire left of the car. As Lance confirmed he was ok, the incident required a red flag that ended Q1 and required the cars coming up behind to back out of their flying laps.

Q2 started after a fairly long break and it would prove to reverse the situation completely. Verstappen was out first and was yet again eagerly discussing with his engineer after having held up a queue at the exit of the pitlane during Q1 due to an apparent technical issue.

Verstappen's time wasn't impressive and he soon tumbled down the pecking order, leaving him 10th after everybody had completed their first flying laps. Sergio Perez's time was similarly uninpressive so the pressure was on when they all went out again for another attempt.

As both Haas cars secured a position in Q3, Sergio Perez made a mistake and nearly spun, bringing out a very brief yellow flag but resulting in the elimination of Sergio Perez. Max Verstappen on the other hand was slightly better positioned and was on the brink to get through until Lawson, the last driver to set cross the finish line improved to 10th and demoted Verstappen to 11th on the starting grid.

Verstappen was clearly infuriated but more than some talking and going to the interview booth wasn't left for him while the Ferrari drivers, both Mercedes, Alonso, Norris, Ocon and Lawson prepared for the final qualifying shootout.

In those first flying laps of the final part of qualifying it was Sainz who took control, topping his Ferrari team mate by 0.251s. Lando Norris got third ahead of Russell, Hamilton, Alonso, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Ocon and Lawson.

The second tries saw Sainz go faster still in the first sector while going slightly slower in the second sector but another blistering final sector secured him from being overtaken by Leclerc or Norris.

In the end it was Russell who came closest to Sainz but it was insufficient to keep Sainz from taking his second consecutive pole position.