Hamilton eyes Singapore hat-trick but wary of Ferrari

Niki Lauda: 'Ferrari favourites for Singapore'

F1: Hamilton takes the lead with Monza win

Vettel was the only driver to finish without a fast lap time on the ultrasoft tyres, although the German was already 0.4s adrift of Ricciardo's pace before encountering traffic in the final sector of what would have been his best lap.

Lewis Hamilton was left surprised by the pace title rival Sebastian Vettel found to claim pole position in Singapore, saying fifth was all he could manage to extract from his Mercedes.

Red Bull are the most successful team in Singapore to date with three wins (2011-2013), ahead of Mercedes and Ferrari (two each).

"I've started second and finished second at this track in the last two years, with fastest lap both times, so my aim this year is definitely to start on pole and try to go one better in the race". "I knew we had it in us but we had to get there". "But even though I'm in that position, it doesn't mean I have it, so I've got to keep working".

Now, a thrilling title battle between Mercedes's Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is in the offing, with Lauda declaring: "My heart is with Ferrari but my head is with Mercedes". Vettel's car needed to be checked over in the pits, costing him valuable time.

The Singapore GP is the 14th stop on the 20-race 2017 calendar.

"Of course it is nice to know where you are going to be racing next year". It is also his third this season.

Verstappen made a hash of his final lap and Vettel lowered his time to 1:39.491, afterwards whooping and shouting to his team-mates in Italian as he celebrated pole. "I just want to collect as many points as possible and hopefully that will take me far".

The move has implications for Red Bull as well, with speculation mounting about whether they will follow their junior team in switching to Honda come 2019, when their contract with current engine supplier Renault runs out. So pleased we got it done.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team will approach the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend with a "healthy scepticism", aware that it will be more "a case of damage limitation".

His team-mate Lance Stroll was 18th ahead of Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, who also had a minor brush with the wall at the penultimate complex of corners. The Swede lost his rear wing but was able to drive his car back to the pits.

Ferrari's downforce is a key weapon at the 23-corner street circuit, whose lack of long straights traditionally nullifies Mercedes' high-speed advantage and puts overtaking at a premium.

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