Vettel Lights Up Singapore Qualifying
Is there no stopping Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel? Notching up his fourth pole in a row and his eleventh this season he heads a Red Bull front row, 0.351 seconds ahead of Mark Webber in the sister car, setting a lap time of 1 minute 44.381 seconds. In a Q3 session that saw the team’s line up two-by-two, it was McLaren’s Button and Hamilton who took the honour of second row slots ahead of Ferrari’s Alonso and Massa who make up row three.
In the end it was to be Vettel’s first flying lap that was to secure pole position as the contenders struggled to find themselves clear air to secure their flying laps. Hamilton, who’d been closest to challenging for pole was denied a second opportunity to challenge after a faulty fuel rig cost him time, though in hindsight, saving his tyres for the race must be beneficial. Button upped his game to start in third for his second consecutive race. With option tyres at a premium due to high degradation Schumacher and the Force India drivers Sutil and Di Resta decided to play the strategy card and not set a time in Q3, they start in 8th to 10th place respectively.
There were mixed emotions for the Renault team after the failure of their latest bodywork package left both drivers languishing towards the back of the pack. With seven drivers failing to progress beyond the first stage it would be either Petrov or Senna who was to be the unlucky last retiree. In the final lap Petrov lost time to a mistake on turn 13, Senna however found extra pace to secure his advance to the second session, he now leads his team-mate 2:1 in only his third qualifying since his promotion from test to race driver.
Although he starts on the second row for tomorrow’s race it was a disappointing Saturday for Lewis Hamilton as the gods of racing seemed to stack the odds against him. In Q2, whilst running on a set of supersoft tyres he suffered a right rear puncture and will start the race with one less set of the option tyres. Q3 didn’t start much better as he narrowly avoided colliding with Felipe Massa whilst trying to overtake the Ferrari on his outlap in the search for clean air. As if all that wasn’t enough to dampen the Englishman’s spirits, the final straw came after setting a potential front row time in his first stint; a fuel rig problem deprived him of the time to try for a second flying lap and he could only watch as Button and Webber dumped him down the grid to fourth place.
Turn 10 was to claim its latest victim in the form of Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese driver who’d been airborne at the corner during yesterday’s free practice sessions failed to take the experience to heart and once again clipped the chicane. This time however, he wasn’t as lucky as he ended up hitting the wall bringing out the red flag in the process and consigning him to 17th place on the grid, a painful experience and more-so as his team-mate had the pace to end the session in 11th. Petrov too must be pondering what might have been after failing to make the Q2 cut-off, and, to add insult to injury it was his new team-mate who was ultimately responsible for the Russian facing the drop.
With Vettel looking invincible and backed up by Webber as rear gunner who would predict anything other than a Red Bull win? McLaren and Ferrari will be all out to spoil the fun so he may not have it all his own way especially as both Hamilton and Alonso have previous wins here to their credit. Strategy will play an important part in tomorrows’ race, especially for Hamilton, handicapped by a lack of fresh rubber so an opportune safety car period must be high on his wish list.
|1. Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1′44.381|
|2. Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1′44.732|
|8. Schumacher||Mercedes||No time set|
|9. Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||No time set|
|10. Di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||No time set|
|Q3 cut-off time:||1′47.486|
|14. Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1′48.634|
|16. Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1′49.862|
|17. Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||No time set|
|Q2 cut-off time:||1′49.588|
107% time: 1′53.844
* Liuzzi carries forward a five place grid drop from Italy but since he qualified 24th there will be no position change.
|Sector 1||Sector 2||Sector 3||Speed Trap|
|Webber||27.935 s||Button||40.688 s||Vettel||35.560 s||Sutil||293.1 km/h|
|Alonso||28.026 s||Vettel||40.781 s||Hamilton||35.828 s||Rosberg||292.9 km/h|
|Vettel||28.029 s||Hamilton||40.832 s||Webber||35.829 s||Massa||292.3 km/h|
What are your predictions for the race? Who will win? Who should have done better? Will Sebastian Vettel clinch the World Championship this weekend?
Photo: Red Bull Racing/Mark Thompson/Getty Images