Singapore GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Alonso grabs Singapore pole
Fernando Alonso (1:45.390) claimed a crucial pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix with a first Q3 run that was good enough to pip Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull (1:45.457).
Vettel made a mess of the middle sector on his first Q3 run and was down in seventh place, putting the pressure on for his final roll of the dice. He produced a good lap but it wasn't quite enough to stop Italian GP winner Alonso from claiming his second straight pole.
Lewis Hamilton (1:45.571) kept himself well in championship contention with third place on the grid, comfortably clear of the remaining championship contenders, team mate Jenson Button (1:45.944) and series leader Mark Webber (1:45.977).
For Ferrari, it was mixed feelings with Felipe Massa going out in Q1 when an engine mapping issue meant that he failed to get a lap in. Alonso, meanwhile, emphasised that this, like Monte Carlo and Budapest, is a circuit where pole position counts for a lot.
"It was not easy," he explained. "We had little running in the dry during free practice and the circuit tends to remain damp, so we arrived at qualifying without 100% confidence in the corners. We built it up in Q1 and Q2 and then pushed to the limit in Q3. I was happy with my lap, didn't know if it was going to be enough but I certainly got 100% out of the car.
"We also had to re-map the engine. We tried to understand Felipe's problem then made some safe changes to avoid any risk - we were running with some experimental things and went back to the standard ones. In Q2 we ran with the old maps."
Vettel, meanwhile, admitted that he and Red Bull had not got the maximum out of the RB6. "It was messy for us, I never really got into the rhythm, I was always in traffic and never got a lap like I did in practice. On my first Q3 run I misjudged the gap to the cars ahead, ran too close to Michael and lost that first lap, then on the second run on the exit of Turns 11/12/13 I slightly hit the wall and couldn't recover enough in the last sector. I had a car to be on pole but unfortunately we managed only second. It means I will not be on the good side at the start and pole would have been better..."
That could leave him vulnerable to Lewis Hamilton, who was satisfied with his third place: "It was not such a bad session and a bit of an improvement compared to Monza. It was tricky out there finding the gap but I'm on the clean side and we've had the best starts for some time, so we could be looking good tomorrow. Our long run pace is also stronger ralative to our one lap pace."
Behind Button and Webber, Rubens Barrichello (1:46.236) achieved his best starting position of the season by putting the Williams-Cosworth sixth on the grid, a couple of tenths clear of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes (1:46.443), which was a similar margin clear of Michael Schumacher (1:46.702) in the second car, the pair sandwiching Robert Kubica's Renault (1:46.592).
Kamui Kobayashi (1:47.884) did a strong job to put his Sauber into the final top 10 slot, while new team mate Nick Heidfeld starts 15th on his return to frontline F1 duty.