Sebastian Vettel seized pole position for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix in an unorthodox qualifying session this afternoon, despite electing not to make a second timed run in Q3.
The German was joined on the front row by compatriot Nico Rosberg, whose success left team-mate Lewis Hamilton claiming his chances of winning the race were over after setting the 5th quickest time. The Briton was once again dissatisfied with his performance after a difficult weekend at Monza saw him claim just two points with 9th place.
Lotus experienced their own day of contrasting fortunes courtesy of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen; the Finn will start 13th for his final Singapore race with Lotus after back pains hindered his ability to tackle the infamous kerbs around the track, while Grosjean put in a brilliant lap to start 3rd, ahead of Mark Webber.
Felipe Massa lent weight to his claim that he would now be racing for himself after the announcement was made he would no longer be driving for Ferrari in 2014 by out-qualifying Fernando Alonso in the race for 6th position. The Brazilian pipped his team-mate by less than a tenth of a second.
Jenson Button will start 8th despite a disrupted and unproductive free practice performance, ahead of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Gutierrez. The Mexican made it into the top ten shootout for the first time in his F1 career after a stellar Q2 lap saw him oust fellow Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg from the final Q3 slot, but chose not to run in the final part of qualifying in order to save tyres.
The Pirello compounds themselves had added a degree of uncertainty to the qualifying hour, as the softs made an unusual appearance in Q1. The tactical mayhem caught out Pastor Maldonado and once again Paul Di Resta, the Force India man facing a tough fight to repeat his 4th place at Marina Bay from last year.
“It was a strange feeling at the end of Q3. It’s already strange when you stand in the garage with only two minutes left in the session, but much worse when you see the others making their final attempt and there’s nothing you can do! I was watching the sector times closely with Romain, Nico and Mark in particular. Mark started with a purple time in sector one, then Nico went purple in sector two and then Romain, but fortunately my last sector was fast enough to just stay ahead. “ Sebastian Vettel, DEU, Red Bull
“Today’s result isn’t surprising, because from the start of the season, on average we have always started from between sixth and eighth place and then made up ground in the race, which we will try and do again tomorrow.” Fernando Alonso, ESP, Ferrari
“Unfortunately today didn’t go to plan as the issue with my back meant I couldn’t really drive properly this morning, so we didn’t get everything done like we wanted in the practice session. It’s still quite painful and there wasn’t much more I could do in qualifying when you take that combination of things into account. It’s not the first time I’ve driven with a problem and it probably won’t be the last time either, but I’ll be on the grid tomorrow and we’ll try to get the maximum from where we are at the start.” Kimi Raikkonen, FIN, Lotus
“To qualify tenth is a really special feeling and one that I have missed. I enjoyed every part of the qualifying. The result today was very important, because it’s not fun going into qualifying knowing that you can be around the top ten, but not getting there.” Esteban Gutierrez, MEX, Sauber
“Qualifying didn’t quite come together for me this evening. I tried my best out there but I just didn’t have a great feeling in the car and ultimately I wasn’t fast enough. Clearly the car was quicker than what I was able to get out of it tonight…So not a good day for me but that’s life.” Lewis Hamilton, GBR, Mercedes
“There’s still quite a bit of progress to be made, but we’ve been doing a lot of set-up work this weekend to improve the car and I’m happy about that. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow, so as to make the best of where we are. It’s likely to be an exciting race because the tyres are working in a very unusual way. As a result there are going to be a lot of different strategies, so it’ll be interesting to see how everyone gets on…I’m really looking forward to it. It’s always a very tough race here, but that’s what we do all the training for.” Jenson Button, GBR, McLaren
“I think we simply didn’t have enough speed today and all weekend I’ve been struggling with my one-lap pace. I think we are more optimised for the race and the speed looks better over long runs, with low degradation of the tyres. But we’ve got some work to do tomorrow if we want to be fighting for points. We came here and tried to replicate as much as we could from last year, but we’ve just not been able to find the zone. It’s a tough, long race ahead of us and it’s difficult to overtake, but anything can happen and we will keep fighting.” Paul Di Resta, GBR, Force India
“It was quite surprising to suffer a significant balance shift on the second run. The first run went well and I was only a tenth from my team mate, so I was fully expecting to make another small step. Overall though we are closer to the Caterhams here and I think our group of four can have a good fight tomorrow. Generally I’m really looking forward to my first night race and we will do our best to make the most of the opportunities that may come our way.” Max Chilton, GBR, Marussia
CLASSIFICATION – QUALIFYING – SINGAPORE GP
|17||Di Resta||Force India||1:46:121|
|20||Van Der Garde||Caterham||1:48:320|