ON POLE FOR SINGAPORE GP: Sebastian Vettel (centre) poses with Kimi Raikkonen (left) and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo following the qualifying round of the 2015 Singapore GP. Image: AP / Mark Baker
Singapore - Mercedes' 15-month domination of Formula 1 qualifying came to a shuddering halt on Saturday when Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel snatched pole position for the Singapore GP.
Mercedes had started at the front of the grid in each of the last 23 grands prix, dating back to the middle of 2014, and needed just one more to equal the all-time record, set by the Williams team in the early 1990s.
The Silver Arrows pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were unable to keep up with the Ferrari and Red Bull teams, who staged their own high-speed battle for pole.
First Ferrari pole in three years
Vettel came out on top, giving Ferrari their first pole position since 2012 with a masterful lap around the floodlit Singaporean track.
As it happened: 2015 Singapore GP - Qualifying
Vettel, a three-time winner in Singapore when he was with his previous team Red Bull, continued his love affair with the tricky street circuit by setting the fastest qualifying time of one minute 43.885 seconds.
Vettel's pole position was the 46th of his career. His last was in 2013, when he was with Red Bull.
The 28-year-old was more than half a second clear of Daniel Ricciardo, who booked his spot on the front row for Red Bull with the second best time.
Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest for Ferrari and Russia's Daniil Kvyat fourth for Red Bull.
Hamilton, who had started from pole in 11 of the previous 12 races this season, could only manage fifth spot, with Rosberg starting alongside him in sixth.
'It was near perfect'
Dripping with sweat on a hot and humid night in the Southeast Asian state, Vettel climbed from his cockpit and celebrated like he had won the race.
Vettel said: "I know it's only Saturday and the main job is coming tomorrow but I had to enjoy the moment when I heard that we'd made it.
"It was looking pretty good, right from the off -- and from this morning. The car was fantastic to drive, it got better through qualifying and I think we did the maximum today."I'm surprised by the margin but I think it just came together. I really had a near-perfect lap at the end.
Mercedes have been unstoppable for the past two seasons but the advantage they have with their superior engines is largely negated on slower, tighter circuits such as Singapore, which has 23 turns.
Held at night against the backdrop of the city's skyscrapers, Singapore provides one of motor racing's great spectacles on and off the track.
With sparks flying off the back of his car, Vettel dominated the hour-long qualifying session. He was third after the first stage using soft tyres but topped the second and third sessions after switching to super softs.
Hamilton commented on the tyre switch: "Our problem this weekend is tyres, they are not giving us a lot of grip and we slide around a lot.
"We try to understand why our tyres are bad. We have the quickest car but cannot utilise it with the tyres."
Ricciardo, who won three races in 2014 when he and Vettel were team mates but has managed just one podium finish this season, made one last, futile attempt to grab pole when he went out on a second set of super-soft tyres but was happy to end with second.
Je said: "It's nice to be back up here. And the front-row as well, it's been a while. It's a bit of a coincidence, Seb and I, and hopefully we can have a good race tomorrow.
"It's a surprise to not see a Mercedes up here. I thought they were playing a few card games yesterday, but they seem to be struggling here."
2015 Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Street Circuit: Results
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