Singapore GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Vettel claims Singapore pole
Sebastian Vettel (1:44.381) clinched his 11th pole position of the 2011 season, maintaining Red Bull Racing's 100% qualifying record when the team locked out the front row for tomorrow's race.
With five races remaining after Singapore, Nigel Mansell's record of 14 pole positions in a season, which has stood since 1992, looks to be in grave danger.
After initially looking as if he was struggling, Red Bull team mate Mark Webber (1:44.732) produced a time just 0.35s behind Vettel, who aborted his second run in Q3 when he was overly ambitious at Turn 10.
"I just tried a bit too much," Vettel admitted. "I could have made it but I decided to abort because it's easy to damage the car. I was happy with my first lap even if the circuit conditions ramped up a bit.
"It's a very difficult track to get right, a long lap and you have to gather it all together."
Webber found time on his second run to jump ahead of the McLarens and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari.
"Singapore has been a testing venue for me and not one I'd choose to come to each week," the Australian admitted, "particularly on Saturdays, but I tend to race a bit better. Seb made it pretty hard for us today. We made a pretty good step between Friday and Saturday but most of that was from me."
Jenson Button (1:44.804) did a strong job to qualify third, just seven hundredths slower than Webber.
"Both of my laps were good," Button said, "but the tyre management was quite difficult for us. Either they were not warm enough for the first part of the lap or they were overheating by the end, so it was tough for us to put the whole lap together. It's a good position for the race tomorrow but it will be a challenge because I didn't do any high fuel running on Friday."
Lewis Hamilton (1:44.809) qualified five thousandths behind his team mate after a difficult session. Hamilton looked all set to save a set of supersoft tyres by getting through Q2 on the Pirelli primes, but the team wanted him to get a feeling for the options ahead of Q3.
Hamilton, although looking secure enough, went out on supersofts at the end of Q2 but punctured his right rear. In Q3 he only got the one run when there was a problem getting the fuel into his car for the second run.
Fernando Alonso (1:44.874) gave it everything and ended up almost a full second quicker than Felipe Massa (1:45.800) but still had to accept fifth on the grid.
"It was a very good lap," confirmed Ferrari's Pat Fry, "we just need to build him a quicker car."
Nico Rosberg (1:46.013) starts seventh in the first Mercedes, while Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta all elected not to run in Q3.
Those drivers therefore have some interesting tactical possibilities open to them for the race. They may opt to start the race on the prime tyre, particularly given that the an early Safety Cars is not unknown in Singapore, whether by design or not...