SINGAPORE — Red Bull Racing's season-long dominance in Formula One looks in danger of ending at the Singapore Grand Prix, as both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez endured poor qualifying sessions at the Marina Bay street circuit on Saturday (16 September).
The two drivers had won all of the 14 previous races in this season - with Verstappen claiming 12 of them - but their team's 100-per-cent winning record is in jeopardy, as Ferrari's Carlos Sainz claimed pole position in 1min 30.984sec.
Everything went wrong for Red Bull in Q2, as Verstappen struggled with opposite lock and Perez - last year's winner in Singapore - spun at Turn 3, leaving them with poor qualifying times that stranded them in 11th and 13th places respectively.
With only 10 drivers going on to Q3, the drivers were left frustrated, as Verstappen stormed out of his car at the Red Bull garage and Perez let loose a string of expletives on his team radio. The Dutchman's record-breaking 10-race winning streak is in danger of ending on Sunday.
"That was shocking, absolutely shocking experience,” Verstappen told his team radio.
Second straight pole for Sainz
In contrast to Red Bull's woes, Ferrari enjoyed a successful qualifying session, with Charles Leclerc claiming third spot on the grid (1:31.063), just behind Mercedes' George Russell (1:31.056).
For Sainz, it is the first time in his F1 career in which he secured two consecutive pole positions, after his pole at the Italian Grand Prix a fortnight ago. The Spaniard eventually finished third in Monza, and he is eager to do better in Singapore.
"It feels good. I knew I had the pace to claim the pole if I made no mistakes in Q3, and thankfully I didn't. Now, more than ever, I want to get it done tomorrow and get that first win of the season for Ferrari," the 29-year-old said after the session.
"It's been the story of (Ferrari's) season: We have a very good car - but only in certain tracks and certain conditions. I think we've been making progress throughout the season, learning from our mistakes, and I hope it all comes together tomorrow."
Nine of the 13 previous Singapore Grand Prix races have been won from the front row of the grid, with eight of them won from pole.
The qualifying session was held up for about 35 minutes, after Aston Martin's Lance Stroll slammed violently into the wall at the final corner of the circuit near the end of Q1, and rebounded back to the centre of the track. Thankfully, the Canadian was able to climb out of his damaged car unscathed.
F1 Singapore GP starting grid: 1 Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 2 George Russell (Mercedes) 3 Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 4 Lando Norris (McLaren) 5 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 6 Kevin Magnussen (Haas) 7 Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin) 8 Esteban Ocon (Alpine) 9 Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) 10 Liam Lawson (AlphaTauri) 11 Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 12 Pierre Gasly (Alpine) 13 Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 14 Alex Albon (Williams) 15 Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) 16 Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) 17 Oscar Piastri (McLaren) 18 Logan Sargeant (Williams) 19 Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo) 20 Lance Stroll (Aston Martin).
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