Ferrari Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel says he was left “playing catch-up” after a risky approach to his final run in Singapore Grand Prix qualifying failed to pay off.

Vettel had sat on provisional pole position after a strong opening lap in Q3 but teammate Charles Leclerc hit back with a 1m36.217s to outpace Vettel by two-tenths and claim his fifth pole of the season.

The German, who has been out-qualified by Leclerc at the last seven races, aborted his final lap after an error-strewn effort, leaving him third on the grid after Lewis Hamilton pipped him to the front-row by just 0.029s.

“It started off very good and then the last run I think I had already in sector one lost a bit then was playing catch-up,” Vettel explained.

“Trying to take more and more risks throughout the lap which didn’t pay off and then the last lap obviously didn’t come together.

“I think overall it’s a good result for us, putting the car first and third for the team is great. It wasn’t a track where we expected to be so strong.

“So I’m happy with that, but not at the end of Q3. The car was good today and pole was up for grabs, but we’ll see tomorrow.”

Asked whether he felt pole would have been possible had he been able to pull off a perfect lap, Vettel replied: “Well I didn’t do it, so obviously it’s all ifs and so on.

“I think the lap time was possible. I thought the first run was a good reference but sector three I had quite a bit of lap time in hand, and parts in sector two.

“In the last attempt I lost the car a little bit through Turn 3 in sector one, and then again in Turn 9. From that point onwards I was a little bit down compared to previous laps and was trying to catch up, probably pushed a bit hard. As simple as that.

“Then I had a bigger mistake at Turn 18 so there was quite a bit of lap time lost. The car was good, I felt good, just a shame I didn’t put together the last attempt in Q3 but I think it was there today.”

Vettel felt “not much” had changed for Ferrari overnight in Singapore despite struggling to match its rivals for pace throughout Friday practice, though he suspects cooler temperatures helped his SF90 “come alive faster”.

“Obviously yesterday we suffered with a lack of front grip, so we tried to put more front in the car,” he said.

“Tonight when the temperatures dropped it seems to come alive faster, I think that’s the biggest difference, in terms of spec the same as yesterday.”

 

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