Sebastian Vettel claims Singapore pole to pile pressure on Lewis Hamilton

BAD INTENTIONS Hamilton is distinctly second favourite at Marina Bay street circuit but an unexpected victory for the Mercedes driver would set alarm bells ringing at Ferrari

While Sebastian Vettel turned in one of the qualifying performances of the season to beat the quick Red Bulls, Raikkonen was almost 0.6s behind his teammate.

But Vettel produced the goods when it mattered most with a record-breaking lap of one minute and 39.481 seconds to provide the best possible answer to both his and Ferrari's disappointing performance in Italy last time out.

His compatriot Kimi Raikkonen was also far off the pace in ninth for Ferrari, ahead of Force India pair Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. We thought Red Bull would be as quick as they were.

"It's not going to be the easiest of weekends, but man I'm coming with positivity and with the plan of winning this race", said Hamilton. "I knew we had it in us, was a bit of a struggle to get there, now I'm just happy".

"I think all in all the whole weekend was good progression, getting better and better. Seb turned it on in qualifying but I'm looking forward to tomorrow", said the Australian.

But Hamilton has refused to give up hope of retaining the lead of the championship race in his quest to become the first British driver to win four world titles.

He clocked 1:42.598 in the first practice session to finish second, but the 30-year-old could not get going in the second practice, brushing his rear right tyre into advertisement boards on Turn 10, and finished 11th.

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"We knew that today would be tough", he said. The German, the most successful driver around the city-state's floodlit streets, scored the last of those for Ferrari in 2015, when Mercedes failed to finish on the podium.

Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo set the pass in Friday practice at the Singapore Grand Prix.

"Time in the sauna is one, or just train in hot climates, sit on the bike, layer up and just learn to get the body in that condition and that environment".

Vettel also believed it would be a close race at the weekend and conceded he knows the Red Bulls will push him.

Hamilton has been on pole position at both races since the summer break, and qualifying is crucial in Singapore with overtaking virtually impossible. "I have just got to keep the pressure on the guys in front without overcooking my auto".

As has been the case at every round this season, Nico Hulkenberg positioned his Renault ahead of his British team-mate after posting the seventh best time. "I think every year we've come here it's been relatively hard for us generally but we knew today would be tough. But we still remain hopeful".

Spaniard Carlos Sainz, set to move to the works Renault team next year, rounded out the top 10 for Toro Rosso.