Leclerc pips Perez and Hamilton for pole
Verstappen only eighth after final lap fuel confusion
Russell eliminated in Q2
Max Verstappen has cultivated a reputation this season as something of a reformed character; more Mature Max than the Mad Max of yesteryear.
Red Bull’s reigning world champion still has the capacity to completely lose his rag every now and again, though, and he did so on Saturday after being forced to abort his final qualifying lap for today’s [Sun] Singapore Grand Prix due to being under-fuelled.
In his defence, it was particularly cruel on him. Verstappen - who has a slim chance of wrapping up his second world title on Sunday should he win and other results go his way - was making the most of a drying track in Singapore following an almighty downpour earlier in the day, and looked set to challenge Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc for pole until he was suddenly told by his team to box on his final lap, having also been ordered to abort his penultimate one.
“What the f---!” Verstappen screamed over his team radio, at a pitch which only Singapore’s passing bats could fully appreciate. “What the f----! What the f--- are you guys saying? I don't get it!"
"What the ****!" 🤬
A furious Max Verstappen vents over team radio after he was asked to pit during the final stages of Q3. pic.twitter.com/dawnYedzOB
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 1, 2022
Red Bull were clearly concerned that their man, who had the eighth fastest time at that point, would not have enough fuel to provide a sample if he went on to complete his lap. Faced with a choice of a certain eighth, or disqualification from qualifying, they chose the former.
Verstappen was furious, describing the chain of events as “unacceptable”. “It shouldn't happen,” he argued. “We should have seen [the fuel issue] earlier. Not happy at all at the moment. It's never acceptable. Of course you learn from it but this is really bad.”
The 25-year-old could be forgiven for feeling a little more stressed than usual given the scrutiny his team are coming under regarding last year’s budget cap; a row which has potentially brought his 2021 title back into play.
What should have been his coronation - whether here in Singapore this weekend or out in Japan next weekend - now looks set to become a bloody legal battle as the most bitter championship fight in recent memory is reignited.
Either way, with Verstappen failing to set a final lap time, Leclerc claimed pole by 0.022sec from the Dutchman's team-mate Sergio Perez. That combination on the front row renders Verstappen’s already slim chances of wrapping up the world title today virtually impossible, since Leclerc and Perez are the two men he needs to finish down the field if he is to stand a chance.
Verstappen would also need to win today’s race, which will not be easy from eighth. “It's a bit like Monaco, it's just super hard to pass here,” he concluded. “At the moment I am not really in the mood to think about the race tomorrow.”
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, will start third in Singapore, his best qualifying performance of the season. The seven-time world champion was just 0.054sec off pole on one of those days when huge chunks of lap time were available to anyone brave enough to go for a quick lap on a track that still had puddles of standing water but was rapidly drying elsewhere.
The first two sessions were all about which team or driver would be brave enough to switch to slick tyres. Aston Martin were the first to dare, at the end of Q2, but it backfired as both Sebastian Vettel and Lance Stroll failed to advance to Q3.
An even bigger name missed out on the top 10 shootout: Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate George Russell. The 24-year-old had a horror show beneath the Singapore lights, failing to advance to Q3 by 0.006sec after encountering what the team described as a throttle issue that affected his steering. Russell will start 11th today. "Sorry guys I couldn't do anything. I really struggled, it was exactly the same issue in FP1,” he said.
The final shootout saw more and more drivers going for it on slicks and the times tumbled accordingly. But with the third sector in particular still very wet, there were plenty of hairy moments.
Hamilton held top spot for a while, but ultimately could not quite do enough. “I was pushing so, so hard,” he said. “It was so close. I thought maybe with a perfect lap we could be fighting for first place. But I’m grateful to be on the second row and grateful to the team for keeping on pushing. Hopefully tomorrow will be a good day.”
At least his day was not ruined by a penalty for wearing a nose stud. The 37-year-old, who has fought a running battle with the FIA this season over his preference for wearing jewellery in the cockpit, was called in to see the stewards for opting to wear the stud in defiance of the governing body’s ban.
Hamilton was let off after explaining that he tried his best to comply over the summer, having the piercing, which was previously “soldered in”, removed, only for his nose to become infected as he took it on and off.
“I had to go to the doctor to have a blood blister treated as there was pus and blood,” Hamilton said, adding that he had a doctor’s note. Mercedes were fined £21,900 for failing to declare the nose stud in scrutineering.
Singapore Grand Prix, qualifying classification
Charles Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1min 49.412secs
Sergio Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:49.434
Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:49.466
Carlos Sainz Jr. (Spa) Ferrari 1:49.583
Fernando Alonso (Spa) Alpine 1:49.966
Lando Norris (Gbr) McLaren 1:50.584
Pierre Gasly (Fra) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:51.211,
Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:51.395
Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas F1 1:51.573,
Yuki Tsunoda (Jpn) Scuderia AlphaTauri 1:51.983,
George Russell (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1:54.012
Lance Stroll (Can) Aston Martin 1:54.211
Mick Schumacher (Ger) Haas F1 1:54.370
Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Aston Martin 1:54.380
Guanyu Zhou (Chn) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:55.518
Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Alfa Romeo Racing 1:56.083
Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:56.226
Esteban Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:56.337
Alexander Albon (Tha) Williams 1:56.985
Nicholas Latifi (Can) Williams 1:57.532
Singapore GP qualifying, as it happened
Hamilton says that the issue with his nose ring...
...is that it keeps getting infected. Hence why it was kept in, he says. He couldn't find a solution. Tom Cary has more:
Lewis Hamilton has just been asked about his summons to see the stewards this evening over his nose stud, which he was wearing today despite the FIA's ban on jewellery.
"I’m not trying to make a statement," he replied. "Obviously I’ve had my jewellery and nose stud for years. And we had that whole commotion at the beginning of the year [when the FIA tried to get him to remove it]. At the time it was soldered in. So they gave me an exemption for a while until we could find a solution.
"I then had it taken out so that I could take it out [while driving] and put it back in. But it got infected. I was just continuing on like that for a while. I had to go to the doctor to have a blood blister treated as there was pus and blood. And then the last two weeks it started to heal. So I’m continuing with it like this. I take everything else out. At this point I don’t really care to be honest."
Asked whether the stewards were satisfied with that explanation, Hamilton added: "I really don’t know. I’ve got a letter from the doctor. I’ve tried my best. One of the excuses I was given a while ago was [the ban] about heat from the metal. But our helmet has metal, our zips are metal, the wires we wear have metal. I don’t know. It’s all a bit silly. Stewards should be there to keep us safe but it’s not a safety issue."
That's it from me today. If you refresh your page you can read Tom Cary's full report. I will be back tomorrow from around 11.30 for the Singapore Grand Prix, which starts at 1pm BST. Could be an interesting one with or without rain.
Watch: Verstappen furious after fuel mix-up
"What the ****!" 🤬
A furious Max Verstappen vents over team radio after he was asked to pit during the final stages of Q3. pic.twitter.com/dawnYedzOB
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 1, 2022
The full run of events that Verstappen alluded to there
Was that on his penultimate lap – which was competitive – the team told him to abort. This might have been so he would be one of the last drivers to cross the line and set a lap rather than one of the first ones and get the best of the conditions later in the session.
Or it could have been because, he might not have had enough battery charge to do two fast laps in that run. Or they knew about the fuel issue and wanted him to do just one lap at full pace... but then perhaps the issue became more clearly critical. Anyway, it's a bit of a mess but not one that is going to have any significant say on the championship. Doesn't look likely that he will win it here now, but you never know...
Verstappen still not happy, but he has to go along with it
I really felt the lap before as well, but then they told me to abort. On the final lap they told me to box and I think I realised what was going to happen. It shouldn't happen. When you don't plan to do those six laps... you track that throughout the session that you are not going to make it. We should have seen that earlier.
Not happy at all at the moment. It's never acceptable. Of course you learn from it but this is really bad. It shouldn't happen.
[On prospects for the race]
It's a bit like Monaco, it's just super hard to pass. At the moment I am not really in the mood to think about the race tomorrow. At the moment I am just super frustrated with what happened.
Toto Wolff speaks to Sky Sports
He doesn't know what happened to Verstappen, it seems.
It's a shame, we had a problem that came back in qualifying that we had in FP1 which was torque following. He didn't really have the equipment to fight for top position. Against Sainz it looked good... we really don't know. It's where you are after the start. If you are not ahead it's going to be difficult.
I think we were hoping that this weekend would go well because our simulations told us so. The direction that we have developed towards [seems] correct. It generally seems we are heading in the right direction. A dry [race would be good but rain could be a little bit of mayhem... whatever comes we need to take.
The ambition needs to be to win it but we need o be careful with our expectations. We thought we could make it for pole and you're just not there and you're disappointed.
On the Hamilton summons (potentially) for a breach of the regulations relating to jewellery:
I don't know. I lost track of piercings and stuff. Let's see what the stewards say.
The penalty for failing to provide a fuel sample in qualifying...
...is disqualification. So, Red Bull had to choose between a possible first or 20th... or near-certain eighth.
When the cars are fuelled for the entire session, the variability of how much fuel is left for the final lap is relatively large, depending on how you approach your laps. Red Bull were clearly on the margin here.
It seems that providing enough fuel for a sample was the issue for Red Bull
Verstappen, I think, needed to find some time in the final sector to take pole but I don't think he would have been far off.
Lewis Hamilton on his third place
I was pushing so hard, I was so so close, I was trying so hard. These guys are so quick. I thought maybe with the perfect lap we could be fighting for first place. I just didn't have the grip. I am grateful for the team for continuing to push. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.
We didn't know how close we would be this weekend, we knew it would be stronger than in Monza... to lose out just by that bit... it's okay. We just get up and fight again tomorrow.
Sergio Perez a bit disappointed after missing out on pole by 0.023s
To the start, I think it's a good opportunity to attack Charles and go for the win. It's quite disappointing to miss out on pole by two hundredths. My team did a fantastic job. Very happy and solid job, it was so tricky to learn the conditions today... tomorrow again it can be wet at any time. The crucial job is not to make any mistakes.
Charles Leclerc reacts to pole position
It's been a very tricky qualifying. In Q3 we didn't really know what to do, we went for the soft at the last minute. I did a mistake on my last lap, so I didn't think we would get pole, but it was enough.
I am very happy with today's result especially considering the Friday that we had, we had very limited amount of laps. We don't have much data for the race run but if we do the perfect execution I am sure we can win. it
[The pole lap] was really special, every qualifying in street tracks are super on the limit and even more when it's damp like that. Overall I managed to do quite a clean lap and it worked well.
Q3 - Classification
CHARLES LECLERC TAKES POLE FOR THE SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX
He timed it well and delivered. It was a problematic Friday but delivered on his promise.
Perez second, Hamilton third and only 0.054s in it. Verstappen only eighth...
"What the f---! What the f----! What the f--- are you guys saying? I don't get it!" Verstappen says on the radio. His team tells him they will explain it after the session.
Q3 - Hamilton only third!
Just 0.054s in it... though. Sainz in fourth still.
What can Verstappen do? It's not a mega lap so far... he needs to find time in the final sector...
He backs off and comes into the pits... that's it then.
"Why?!" he exclaims on the radio.
In fact, he is ordered into the pits. Is that a fuel issue? You need to provide a fuel sample or risk being disqualified.
Q3 - Perez into second, by just 0.022s
Alonso taps the wall! He goes fourth...
Hamilton fastest in the middle sector...
Where does he finish?
Q3 - Verstappen tentative in the final sector
No major dramas... but he backs off... is he trying to be the last man to set a lap time here? Maybe...
Alonso into second... but then Sainz beats his compatriot to the front row!
Ferrari 1-2 now.
Q3 - Alonso fastest again... for about three seconds
Leclerc beats that by 1.3s. Verstappen is 0.767s up on Leclerc after two sectors....
Q3 - 2 mins remain
This is going to be a critical, crucial, fascinating and frantic final few minutes.
Leclerc fastest in the middle sector. He will get another go, maybe, if he saves battery life. Yes, he will do according to his team.
Q3 - Perez into third now
0.728s off Hamilton.
Here's an updated top six:
Q3 - Order
Q3 - Verstappen improves but only second
0.376s off Hamilton. There's another second in there, I think.
Q3 - Hamilton improves again
Norris into second... Alonso knocks Hamolton off the top, and then Leclerc knocks Alonso off the top...
But Hamilton beats Leclerc by 0.862s to go fastest.
Verstappen with the fastest time in sector one as Gasly goes straight on and then reverses back onto the track, bringing out the yellow flags.
Verstappen loses a bit of time in the middle sector...
Q3 - Verstappen into second
But 1.2s off Hamilton's time. Hamilton is improving again, though... he's really hooked it up here.
Q3 - Hamilton fastest!
That was a bold lap, 1:53.082s quicker than Tsunoda. It's a long lap here. Evolution on these tyres should be massive.
Verstappen is improving but he hasn't beaten Hamilton after two sectors. Interesting...
Q3 - Tsunoda only two tenths off Verstappen in the middle sector
As Horner said it's the final sector which is wettest.
Verstappen crosses the line with a 1:56.940 but Tsunoda is 1.770s quicker than that on the intermediates.
I think that gap should come down. I think dry tyres are the best.
Hamilton on a good lap here.
Q3 - Verstappen with a 30.9s in the first sector
But Tsunoda and Magnussen are miles ahead of that. They are both on the intermediates. Well, more than half a second. It's not going to be the first laps which are crucial for deciding the order, though, but the final ones.
Q3 - 10 mins remain
Only Tsunoda and Magnussen on inters, everyone else on fresh softs.
GREEN LIGHT: Q3 begins
Sainz went out on the softs... Leclerc was going to go out on the intermediates but then he changes his mind to go to slicks. They switch the engine off for the change. A bit odd. But very Ferrari.
Tsunoda on intermediates, as is Magnussen.
Christian Horner speaks to Sky Sports F1
In sector one and sector two if you look at Lance's times it's definitely ready for slicks. The question is sector three. It's right on the bubble. I think we'd rather be on it from early and build and go with the track.
Verstappen out on slicks. I think everyone will be... it will still be tricky and about managing the tyres. No sign of any further rain.
That final lap of 1:54.211 from Stroll...
...suggests that the crossover time has probably been reached for slicks. At least I would imagine some drivers might put on slicks and bring them into temperature and into the range by doing one or two long runs on them.
Q2 - Top 10
These men are all through to Q3 where they will battle for pole position.
Q2 ends - Leclerc leads Hamilton and Verstappen
OUT: RUS, STR, MSC, VET, ALO
Q2 - Tsunoda sixth
That puts team-mate Gasly down into the drop zone. Magnussen into eighth. Russell could be in danger here. He's ninth...
Alonso with the fastest middle sector.
Mick Schumacher improves to 13th from 14th, so he's out. Can Gasly get into Q3? Yes, sixth...
Alonso into fifth, he's through. That puts Russell out!
Stroll looking decent(er) on slicks... crosses the line in 12th...
Q2 - Into the final moments...
Stroll 3.643s off the pace on his slick tyres after two sectors. Vettel probably even worse than that. Stroll in 10th and Vettel 11th currently so this gamble could have cost them...
Leclerc still leads Hamilton and Verstappen.
Q2 - Russell struggling here
Hamilton sets the fastest middle sector of the day... and then crosses the line to go second, 0.348s off Leclerc.
Russell is into the final sector now...
He crosses the line to go seventh, 1.669s off the pace. Will that be enough to get him through? Stroll spun on his slicks at the slow left-handed hairpin.
Sainz fastest in the first sector. Slicks do not seem to be working for anyone who has them on. Vettel now in the drop zone.
Q2 - Okay, Ferrari put on new inters on Leclerc
So no risk at all. Surely someone is going to put on slicks. Stroll does. As does his team-mate Vettel. Both softs. I wonder if this will catch anyone out, one way or the other.
The drop zone is still as it was.
Q2 - Leclerc says it's difficult to say whether the track is ready for slicks
A couple of corners where there is a fair bit of water. Hamilton and Russell go out on brand new inters.
Leclerc now says he wants to box for slicks. He currently has the fastest time... and lap times aren't really dropping massively on the intermediates. So maybe it is a calculated risk.
Q2 - Top 10 and gaps
DROP ZONE: MSC, MAG, RUS, TSU, ZHO
Russell having a tricky session so far.
Q2 - Sainz goes again
But it's only fourth, behind Perez but ahead of Hamilton. Still 1.152s off Leclerc, though.
Q2 - Verstappen only second
0.380s off Leclerc. That was a competitive lap from Leclerc.
Perez into third, just a tenth off his team-mate.
Q2 - Leclerc crosses the line with a 1:52.343
That's 1.652s quicker than Norris and 6.5s quicker than Sainz.
Hamilton goes second but he's 1.6s off Leclerc.
Verstappen looking like threatening Leclerc, though...
Q2 - First flying laps under way
Leclerc, who says the track is drying quickly, is fastest in the first sector by at least a tenth over anyone else.
He's rapid in the second sector, too. Again a big chunk over everyone else. This could be a very competitive lap.
Norris currently leads the way with a 1:53.995.
Q2 - 13 mins remain
Nobody goes out on the slicks. It's not as cold as it was back then but it's a little similar to the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix with the lack of track development.
GREEN LIGHT: Q2 begins
15 minutes, 10 drivers through and five eliminated.
Another Q1 elimination for Ricciardo
His fourth of the season... as time goes on you wonder whether time out of F1 might be the best thing for him.
Ocon: “Ah the brakes guys, I had no brakes that lap”
Not ideal on a track like this. A surprise to see him out.
Christian Horner says he thinks slicks are edging ever closer. Well, that's no surprise.
Q1 - Top 15
These drivers are all through.
Nobody even gave the dry tyres a go. That will surely change in the next session, but then again lap times barely came down in those 18 minutes. Only by four seconds from Russell's very first tentative lap in those conditions.
Q1 ends - Verstappen fastest ahead of Hamilton
Drivers out: BOT, RIC, OCO, ALB, LAT
Q1 - Schumacher crosses the line...
...in 14th! He's through. That puts Bottas into the bottom five and out of the session.
Q1 - Yellow flags...
Alonso had an incident at turn eight...
Ricciardo improves but only to 16th... he is out.
Ocon also fails to get out, only 18th!
Schumacher is in 17th and needs to put in a good lap to get out. He is right on the cusp after two sectors... can he get it across the line and into Q2?
Q1 - Into the final minute
Ocon, Ricciardo, Albon, Vettel and Latifi in the bottom five.
Q1 - Can Albon get out of the drop zone?
He's roughly where he needs to be to do that. Hamilton with the fastest first sector of the session... and indeed the fastest lap of the session, nearly a second faster than Leclerc in second. Verstappen also on a good lap.
Albon's attempt at getting into the top 15 fails this time... by 0.045s. He will probably get another go...
Q1 - Albon in 19th is going for a quick run
All 20 cars on the track now. Verstappen came in to change onto fresh intermediates it seems.
No major shocks on the cards yet, despite the difficult conditions. And nobody has crashed.
Q1 - Ricciardo in the drop zone, 18th
He is on fresh intermediates but has found some traffic. He pulls himself out of danger for now, going 12th.
Three minutes remain. Verstappen comes into the pits.
Nobody has been brave enough to try slicks yet. Would be foolhardy at the moment, you feel.
Magnussen into sixth and out of the drop zone. Schumacher, his team-mate, is into the top 10. That puts Vettel and Bottas into the bottom five.
Q1 - Top 10 and gaps
Q1 - Drivers in the drop zone with six mins left
LAT, BOT, RIC, MAG, MSC.
Leclerc with the fastest time of the session, 0.173s ahead of Verstappen and about half a second faster than Hamilton.
Q1 - Verstappen makes a better first of his next lap
He goes fastest by 0.294s, ahead of Hamilton.
Verstappen says it's not yet ready for slicks. Someone might try it at the end of this session, though.
Q1 - Hamilton leads Leclerc
Here's an early top 10:
Q1 - Verstappen on his first hot lap
As Leclerc moves fastest, 0.788s ahead of Russell.
Verstappen looks to have backed off on his lap. Verstappen only 13th but Perez third, around a second off Leclerc's pace. Magnussen goes straight on but spin turns... Leclerc does the same at the same corner moments later.
Sainz moves into second, just 0.025s off Leclerc. Lap times tumbling now, as they will do.
Norris, Magnussen, Schumacher, Bottas and Zhou in the drop zone but they have not all set representative times.
Q1 - 12 mins remain
Every car now on track as Sainz enters the final sector.
He crosses the line with a 1:58.131 to go fifth. Hamilton and Russell both improve their times, Russell now fastest – 1.095s ahead of Hamilton.
Yellow flags out... a spinner or a crash? A spinner, they soon clear.
Q1 - Russell sets a 1:57.099
But Hamilton beats that by 0.162s. Tsunoda third and Gasly fourth, the Frenchman about three seconds off Hamilton.
Carlos Sainz begins his first hot lap...
Q1 - Russell will be the first man to cross the line and set a time
His first sector is a 31.405 but Hamilton beats that by half a second. With track conditions like this I can't see us getting through without a red flag. Some corners are surely far too wet for slicks. That could change, though.
Russell makes up a bit of time on Hamilton in the middle sector...
Q1 - 17 mins remain
Still a fair bit of dampness on the track in places so I can't see anyone starting on slicks here. My earlier prediction was wrong. Especially damp in the middle sector. Not wet enough for the extreme tyres, though. Lando Norris concurs on the team radio.
GREEN LIGHT: Q1 is go!
Both Mercedes cars, led by Russell, are at the end of the pit lane on intermediate tyres waiting for the green light...
One thing I would be almost certain of...
Would be Nicholas Latifi going out in Q1. But, who knows, he may surprise us. There's a half-decent driver in there somewhere but this season has been poor.
Five minutes to go
Predictions? Charles Leclerc had limited running yesterday. Verstappen only ran eight laps in FP2 and Hamilton was fastest in FP1. It is a little uncertain, of course, but the cream usually rise to the top. And that season it has usually been Verstappen and Leclerc.
In Lando Norris's latest column...
...he goes through the difficulties of racing in the extreme heat and humidity in Singapore.
To be honest, in Singapore pretty much all of the fluid you take on is secreted out through sweat. It is so hot inside your suit and helmet that one driver said he used to put a woman's sanitary towel inside his helmet to try to soak up the sweat while he was racing, so that it wouldn’t drip into his eyes.
Current constructor standings
Has been a decent season for Alpine. Alonso goes from there to Aston Martin next year...
What is the weather like in Singapore now?
It has stopped raining and the track looks pretty dry. Not impossible that we get more rain in the next 80 minutes, though. But it should probably be slick conditions. There is still a 50-60 per cent chance of some rain in that time.
What are the potential penalties for breaching 2021's budget cap?
For a minor breach, or an overspend of less than five per cent:
Deduction of drivers' and constructors' championship points
Suspension from one or more stages of a competition
Limitations of ability to conduct aerodynamic or other testing
Reduction of the cost cap
For a major breach, or an overspend of more than five per cent
All of the above, plus:
Suspension from an entire competition
Exclusion from the championship
Current drivers' championship standings, top 10
Verstappen's lead doesn't really reflect Red Bull's dominance accurately. Yes, since the summer break it worked excellently for him... but Ferrari have really thrown away numerous good positions and have been pretty close for much of the year.
George Russell has had an exceptional season for Mercedes
He looks likely to achieve the rare feat of beating Lewis Hamilton over a season – it has only happened twice in his 15 years in F1 – and has generally got the best out of a problematic car. Yes, I think Hamilton has been closer to Russell than the standings show but that even matching Hamilton is an achievement.
Tom Cary sat down with the Mercedes driver recently for an exclusive interview where he talks Roger Federer, his title hopes, and battling against Lewis Hamilton. Read the full interview here.
Some great shots during final practice
The forecast is for more rain tomorrow and a wet race would be quite something. We had a wet start and chaos in 2017, but it soon dried out.
FIA statement on budget/cost cap
"The FIA is currently finalising the assessment of the 2021 financial data submitted by all Formula 1 teams. Alleged breaches of the Financial Regulations, if any, will be dealt with according to the formal process set out in the regulations.
The FIA notes significant and unsubstantiated speculation in conjecture in relation to this matter, and reiterates that the assessment is ongoing and due process will be followed without any consideration to any external discussion."
Christian Horner threatens Toto Wolff over claims that Red Bull breached F1 budget cap
If you want to read more on the background from the latest budget cap row, then read Tom Cary's latest from Singapore here.
Max Verstappen can win the championship this weekend
Third practice, classification
Breaking news: Hamilton summoned to stewards
This is for an alleged breach of Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code. This could relate to helmet art, flame-resistant clothing, frontal head restraint art, safety belts or jewellery. Please say it isn't jewellery. We had enough of that nonsense earlier in the year.
His appointment is/was at 12.45pm BST so we could discover any outcome before qualifying. Or maybe not.
Good afternoon F1 fans
And welcome to our coverage for qualifying for the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix. Both championships appear to be all but dead and buried as we currently stand, but that does not mean there is not a great deal of interest and intrigue around the paddock at the Marina Bay Street Circuit this weekend.
The most notable story that has exploded this weekend is that of potential budget cap breaches. The big news today is that Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has responded to comments made yesterday by his Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff. Tom Cary has all the latest on that from the ground.
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, says his team may take legal action against Mercedes unless Toto Wolff withdraws the “hugely defamatory” allegations he made on Friday night suggesting Red Bull might have breached last year’s budget cap.
Describing the Austrian’s comments as “bang out of order”, Horner also demanded to know how Mercedes appeared to know so much about “what is meant to be a confidential process”.
“We don’t even know if we’ve breached the cap yet,” Horner said. “The process is still ongoing as the FIA said very clearly in a statement last night. They don’t complete the process until next week.
“We take umbrage [at Wolff’s comments]. We believe we are fully compliant. And anyway how on earth do they have this knowledge?
“Unless there is a clear withdrawal we will take extremely seriously all [legal] options available to us. They are bang out of order.”
So that is one story that threatens to rumble on. There are a variety of penalties available to the FIA if a team is in "material" breach of the budget cap – as opposed to a minor one of under 5 per cent – including expulsion from the championship. All the details are far from clear at the moment, so seriously working out what might happen is difficult. 2021, though, is the season that just will not die.
The other story is of the Singapore Grand Prix itself, and notably the weather. Final practice earlier this morning was interrupted by heavy and persistent rain. The session technically started on time but the pit lane did not open until well into the session. In the end there was a reasonable amount of running, with most drivers completing 10 or more laps.
Charles Leclerc was fastest for Ferrari ahead of Max Verstappen, though with times that were around 15 seconds off what we might expect in the dry. Will we see it dry for qualifying, which starts in just over an hour's time, though? Maybe, but maybe not. The forecast says there is about a 60 per cent chance of rain in the next couple of hours. And the track may not be completely dry by the start of Q1 in any case.
A wet qualifying on a track as tricky as this even in the dry could well be worth following. Though, no doubt, it'll be the usual suspects at the top...