Singapore GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won the pole in Saturday night's qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix. It was a tense final session as Vettel set a 1:42.841 and then did not go out again in the hopes that his time would stand. It did, but barely, as Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) turned a 1:42.932.
"It's weird to sit in the garage and see the others have a final attempt and there's nothing you can do," Vettel said. "I was watching them, Mark (Webber) was purple in Sector 1, Nico and Romain (Grosjean) had a purple Sector 2 but fortunately my Sector 3 was enough to keep me on pole, but it was tight. The car has been phenomenal all weekend, the gap was way too big on Friday, the others caught up today but we're still ahead, so that is good.
Rosberg was pleased with second.
"Sebastian has been very quick," he said, "but in the end it was close, just 0,1s. But second place is a great result and gives me a good position to start the race. I'm happy with our race pace, so I'm looking forward to the race."
Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Mark Webber (Red Bull) filled out the second row of the grid.
"The car has been strong all weekend," Grosjean said. "We knew we would be quick at night and made good strategic decisions to save tires in Q1. We had two new sets for Q3 and it paid off."
The ambient air temperature at the start of the one-hour session was 29 degrees Fahrenheit (84 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was also 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).
Pastor Maldonado (Williams) was the first out for Q1 followed by Paul di Resta in the Force India. The Williams crew radioed Maldonado to remind him of the plan to do a three lap run, one fast, one slow and one fast.
Maldonado got the time screens rolling with a 1:48.458 set on Pirelli's medium compound slicks, and then Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) lowered that to a 1:47.087. Nico Rosberg then turned a 1:46.288 in his Mercedes.
The 20-minute session was half over and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber and McLaren's Sergio Perez still had to turn a lap. Then, with 9 minutes to go, the Red Bull duo headed out.
With 7 minutes remaining, Nico Hulkenberg shot to the top with a 1:45.381, set with a set of super soft tires on his Sauber. His teammate Esteban Gutierrez, also on super softs, moved up to third. Perez, meanwhile, finally left the pits.
With 5 minutes remaining, Vettel slotted into second with a 1:45.755, but that became third as Webber went to the top with a 1:45.271.
With 3 minutes remaining, Rosberg clocked a 1:45.208 and Perez beat him with a 1:45.164. And then the times came tumbling down. Hamilton slammed in a 1:44.196.
Everybody was on the super softs now.
Felipe Massa (Ferrari) scraped in at the last minute and scrapped his Ferrari along the wall in the process.
The top six drivers at the end of Q1 were: Hamilton, Jenson Button (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Perez, Rosberg and Webber.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Paul di Resta (Force India), Maldonado, Charles Pic (Caterham), Guido van der Garde (Caterham), Jules Bianchi (Marussia) and Max Chilton (Marussia.)
Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) was the first out as the 15-minute Q2 began. He was in pain because of a trapped nerve in his back.
Ten other drivers joined him on the track.
Everybody was running the super softs ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ no messing about with the mediums for this session.
With 10 minutes remaining, Raikkonen clocked a 1:44.794. Rosberg topped that with a 1:43.892. Hamilton would move into second with a 1:43.920.
The Red Bull drivers waited until there was six minutes remaining before heading out. The McLaren duo, meanwhile, stayed in the pits.
With less than 4 minutes remaining, Vettel clocked a fast 1:42.905. And Webber did a 1:43.727.
With less than 3 minutes remaining, the McLaren boys took to the track.
There was plenty of shuffling around between about seventh and 15th in the final moments with the result that
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Hulkenberg, Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso), Raikkonen, Perez, Sutil and Valtteri Bottas (Williams.)
The top six drivers at the end of Q2 were: Vettel, Webber, Rosberg, Hamilton, Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Alonso.
And so the final 10-minute shootout began. Vettel, on super soft tires, clocked the first time: 1:42.841. Rosberg and Webber took second and third but with much slower times: 1:43.431 and 1:43.460. Hamilton (1:43.756) and Grosjean (1:43.784) were the only other drivers to set times.
The rest of the drivers planned to do just one run at the end of the session. With 3 minutes remaining, Massa was the only one on the track. But others soon joined him for the frantic final laps. All except Vettel who stayed in the pits confident his time could not be beaten.
But Rosberg came close, going second quickest with a 1:42.932. Webber improved to a 1:43.152 but dropped to fourth as Grosjean slid into third with a 1:43.058.
Hamilton ended up fifth ahead of Massa, Alonso, Button, Ricciardo and Gutierrez. The latter did not go out for a run in Q3.