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Hamilton starts FIFTH: Vettel STORMS to POLE at Singapore Grand Prix

16 Setiembre 2017

Hamilton's title rival Sebastian Vettel was just 11th, but his result is somewhat skewed given that he failed to post a fast lap on the ultrasoft tyre, the quickest of the three compounds available. The German added after the last race that it was clear Mercedes had the pace going in their favor, but he hopes to overturn that in the next handful of contests. The pair criticized each other's driving after several incidents on track. "I looked at the screens behind and I waited for the call. If we can get the car comfy like the past two races, we'll definitely be strong in the fight".

The 2017 Formula One season returns with the Singapore Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Circuit this weekend. Carlos Sainz was 10th in the Toro Rosso.

Hamilton and Mercedes, meanwhile, have a chequered history at Singapore.

Vettel went quicker than any other driver in the opening sector of what should have been his best lap, only to be blocked by the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson before abandoning his run. Kimi Räikkönen left out to the track right as the light turned green. But the reigning champions endured an uncharacteristically off-colour weekend in 2015, when Vettel won for Ferrari instead.

It would also be the 19-year-old's last chance to achieve the feat as a teenager, with the Dutchman celebrating his 20th birthday on Sept 30, when qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix will take place. It's a long way up the road.

The Australian clocked 1 minute, 40.852 seconds under the floodlights, and that was enough to convince him that he can clinch a second win of the season and sixth of his career on Sunday.

Asked whether victory on Sunday was vital for his season, Vettel said: "I think it's more important to have the lead after Sunday night in Abu Dhabi (the final race)". Nevertheless we learned a lot from our struggles in Monaco, raised our level of performance significantly in Hungary and we have made good progress in understanding what we need to do in order to get the most from the chassis.

"I'm not here to finish third". I threw the sink at it and squeezed every bit of it.

"Our understanding of the car will potentially help this weekend, but you never really know where you are going to be able to place the car", Hamilton said.

"Seb's got a championship to think about", said Horner.

"I didn't mean to go off", he continued.

Valtteri Bottas, whose future at Mercedes alongside Hamilton was confirmed earlier in the week, struggled in eighth. "I am honored and proud to continue to work with Mercedes".

Hamilton starts FIFTH: Vettel STORMS to POLE at Singapore Grand Prix