Singapore GP 2016
SEPTEMBER 17, 2016
Qualifying Report - The chances of winning
By Dan Knutson in Singapore
If the statistics from the past five Singapore Grands Prix are anything to go on, then Nico Rosberg has an 80 percent chance of winning the 2016 edition of the race because he has qualified on pole position because four times in the past five years the driver who started on pole position went on to win the Singapore Grand Prix. The exception was in 2012 when Lewis Hamilton earned the pole but Sebastian Vettel won the race after Hamilton's gearbox failed.
The ambient temperature at the start of qualifying was 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Centigrade.)
The line-up for the weekend was: Mercedes - Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Ferrari - Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Williams Mercedes - Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. Red Bull TAG Heuer - Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen . Force India Mercedes - Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. Renault - Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer. Toro Rosso Ferrari - Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz. Sauber Ferrari - Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr. McLaren Honda - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. Manor Mercedes - Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon. Haas Ferrari - Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez.
Rosberg set the early pace with a lap of 1:45.316 using the ultra soft Pirellis, and Hamilton, who had struggled in FP3, promptly beat that with a 1:45.167 also on the ultras. The Ferrari and Red Bull drivers did not head out straightaway.
Just about everybody used the ultra tires.
Halfway through Q1 Raikkonen posted a 1:44.964, and then Verstappen took second place with a 1:45.036.
Vettel radioed in that something had broken on the left front of the Ferrari. He definitely had a problem with the front suspension.
With six minutes remaining in Q1, Ricciardo slammed in a 1:44.255.
Grosjean was 16th and on the cut line, with Palmer 15th and Magnussen 17th. Vettel was last as he did another lap and pitted. "This is just stupid," an exasperated Vettel said.
With three minutes remaining in Q1, Grosjean was now up to ninth. Kvyat was now 15th, Palmer 16th and Magnussen 17th. The bubble group would get reshuffled.
Time ran out for last year's winner Vettel who did not get in another lap and will start the race from the back of the grid.
The six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP1 were: Magnussen, Nasr, Palmer, Wehrlein, Ocon and Vettel.
The fastest 16 drivers who moved on to Q2 were: Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Hamilton, Perez, Button, Kvyat, Rosberg, Alonso, Gutierrez, Sainz, Grosjean, Massa, Hulkenberg, Bottas and Ericsson.
Ultra softs were the tires of choice, of course, for Q2.
Rosberg set the bar at 1:43.020 early in the 15-minute session. Hamilton was four-tenths slower. And Raikkonen grabbed third with a 1:44.159 only to be pushed out by Ricciardo (1:43.933) and Verstappen (1:44.112).
Down at the other end, Kvyat was ninth, Massa tenth and on the bubble, and Button 11th after their initial laps.
All 16 runners were in the pits with four minutes to go in Q2. Then, while the top five stayed put, the rest save Ericsson headed back out.
Grosjean spun into the barriers at Turn 10, and Button parked.
"I don't know what happened under braking," a winded Grosjean said.
"I think I've got broken steering from a tap on the wall," Button said.
The six drivers who were eliminated at the end of FP2 were: Bottas, Massa, Button, Gutierrez, Grosjean and Ericsson.
The fastest 10 drivers who moved on to Q3 were: Rosberg, Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Raikkonen, Kvyat, Sainz, Alonso, Perez and Hulkenberg.
But would things stay like that? Did drivers lift off in the yellow flag zones?
"Yellow flags on the final lap means we've dropped to P11 & P12 while others improved," Williams tweeted.
Q3 lasted 12 minutes but was delayed for 10 minutes so that the barriers at Turn 10 could be repaired.
Once again the drivers were using the ultra soft Pirellis. Hulkenberg was out first and did a 1:44.954.
Ricciardo posted a 1:43.741 and seconds later Rosberg did a stunning 1:42.584. Then Hamilton nabbed second with a time of 1:43.288, and Raikkonen third with a 1:43.540.
So Ricciardo was now fifth, and Verstappen sixth ahead of Sainz, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Perez and Kvyat.
Verstappen complained about locking up his tires.
"That was a really bad lap," he said. "We need to see what we can do; I was locking fronts, locking rears."
With four minutes remaining, all 10 drivers were in the pits, but not for long.
Ricciardo went out first and posted a 1:43.115, which put him second behind Rosberg who clocked a 1:42.661. Hamilton did a slightly messy lap in 1:43.288 to take third place.
Verstappen, Raikkonen, Sainz, Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Alonso and Perez round out the top 10.