Formula One: Qualifying

Four-legged 'intruder' adds drama on track

Left: Sparks flying as Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen approaches Turn 16 during the qualifying session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit yesterday evening. He qualified for tonight's main race in fifth place. Below: A huge monitor lizard lumbering acro
Sparks flying as Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen approaches Turn 16 during the qualifying session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit yesterday evening. He qualified for tonight's main race in fifth place. PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, FORMULA1.COM
Left: Sparks flying as Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen approaches Turn 16 during the qualifying session at the Marina Bay Street Circuit yesterday evening. He qualified for tonight's main race in fifth place. Below: A huge monitor lizard lumbering acro
A huge monitor lizard lumbering across the track during the hour-long third free practice.PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM, FORMULA1.COM

Much amusement as huge monitor lizard is seen on the asphalt during third free practice

For the second straight year, the Marina Bay Street Circuit saw an unscheduled "intruder" on the track during the Formula One Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.

Last year, it was a reckless fan, Briton Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia, who clambered past the barricades and walked on the track for a couple of heart-stopping moments during the main Sunday race.

Last night, during the hour-long third free practice, it was a huge monitor lizard which lumbered across the track instead. It triggered a Twitter flurry and plenty of amusement. "New friend in FP3 (Free Practice Three)," commented McLaren driver Fernando Alonso on Instagram, with a picture of the animal on the asphalt.

There was much less drama during the actual qualifying session last night, with Mercedes' title contender Nico Rosberg snaring pole position with a lap time of 1min 42.584sec. "I am definitely happy with that one. It was one of my top three laps ever," the German said.

Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo was second, managing a lap of 1:43.115 right at the end of the session to pip defending F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton, who leads the current drivers' standings by only two points from Rosberg, will have much to do to defend his overall lead on a circuit that is notoriously difficult to overtake.

"It has not been my weekend so far," the Briton said. "Nico did a great job. He showed the true potential of the car and I will do as good as I can to get at least one step up."

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen will start alongside Hamilton after setting the fourth fastest time for Red Bull, with the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top five.

Last year's race winner, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, will have to start tonight's race at the back of the grid.

The four-time Singapore Grand Prix winner suffered mechanical problems to his car during qualifying, and his mechanics were unable to get him back on the track for a qualifying time.

The main race is scheduled for 8pm tonight.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'Four-legged 'intruder' adds drama on track'. Print Edition | Subscribe