x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Vettel boosts title ambitions with dominant Singapore pole

Sebastian Vettel will start today's Singapore Grand Prix from pole position, ahead of Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber.

SINGAPORE // As expected, Sebastian Vettel secured pole position at the Marina Bay Street Circuit ahead of today's Singapore Grand Prix and, as expected, the German refused to take anything for granted.

The Red Bull Racing driver can claim his second successive world title today, and become the sport's youngest double champion if results go his way, and he looked dominant under the bright lights of the snaking street circuit.

Vettel finished 0.351 seconds quicker than his teammate Mark Webber, who ensured the Austrian-owned team were able to lock up the front row of the grid for the sixth time this season.

Jenson Button of McLaren-Mercedes finished third, a further 0.072secs behind, and just ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton, with Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari driver, back in fifth position.

It was Vettel's 11th pole position of the season, bringing him to within three poles of matching Nigel Mansell's record of 14, set in 1992 with the Williams team. But Vettel, 24, said he is focusing only on the task at hand.

"It sounds easy to keep doing what we're doing, but it's not easy to do it every weekend," he said.

"Nigel's record is exceptional; he had an incredible year. We are not doing too bad, but it's wrong to start thinking about these things. We have a long race and that's where you score points, not in qualifying."

Webber endured a rather testy relationship with his teammate last season as they both battled for the championship, but this year they have appeared far more amicable.

"I'm pretty happy, to be honest," said Webber of his second place.

"Seb laid it down pretty hard and did a great job for pole. It's rare he makes a mistake. My lap wasn't bad at all, so it puts us in a good position and that is very rewarding."

Button missed much of Friday's practice after suffering braking issues and acknowledged that he did not expect to be so fast. He said that the fact the title race is all but over does not affect drivers' motivation.

"Even if [Vettel] doesn't start the next six races, it would still be hard to beat him," he said.

"But when the lights go out, you don't think about the championship. You just want to do your best."