Vettel eases to Singapore pole position

Sebastian Vettel will start from P1 on the Singapore Grand Prix grid for tomorrow’s race. The Red Bull driver was so fast today, he sat out the final few minutes of Q3, as his rivals attempted – and failed – to beat his time.

Nico Rosberg will join him on the front row, setting up an interesting duel for the Grand Prix.

Q1

The super-soft tyre was almost 2 seconds faster than the medium compound, so the challenge for the top teams in Q1 was to see which could make it through without using the softer tyre.

Eventually, only Vettel, Webber and Romain Grosjean managed to do this, although the Lotus driver only scraped through by 0.2 seconds. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, were 6th and 7th, indicating how fast they were this weekend.

Felipe Massa sat in 18th place for part of the session, before his final lap pushed Paul di Resta into the drop zone. The Scot has now been knocked out of Q1 5 times this year. He was joined by Pastor Maldonado, as well as the usual suspects.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Paul di Resta – 1:46.121

18) Pastor Maldonado – 1:46.619

19) Charles Pic – 1:48.111

20) Giedo van der Garde – 1:48.320

21) Jules Bianchi – 1:48.830

22) Max Chilton – 1:48.930

Q2

Kimi Raikkonen had been suffering from back pain on Saturday, presumably from the many bumps on the Singapore street circuit. This problem seemed to only get worse in qualifying, and Kimi was visibly uncomfortable in the car on his Q2 flying lap. While he did set a time, it was well off what was required to get into Q3, and he will line up 13th.

Nico Hulkenberg was disappointed to line up 11th, and must have been even more aggrieved to see Esteban Gutierrez break into Q3 for the first time this season.

An immensely quick lap time from Vettel – 0.8 seconds faster than anyone else – laid down an ominous gauntlet for his challengers in Q3.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:44.555

12) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:44.588

13) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:44.658

14) Sergio Perez – 1:44.752

15) Adrian Sutil – 1:45.185

16) Valtteri Bottas – 1:45.388

Q3

Vettel set his fast lap surprisingly early in Q3, and a 1:42.841 was definitely not unassailable. Nevertheless, he peeled off into the pits, and after a few minutes of deliberation, decided not to head out onto track again. This left 8 other drivers scrambling to beat his time, while Gutierrez sat out the session.

However, Nico Rosberg threatened to snatch an unlikely pole, going only 0.091 seconds slower than Sebastian. While Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean had impressed in previous sessions, neither of them could pull it off either. Grosjean will line up 3rd, with Hamilton 5th, and Mark Webber sandwiched in between them.

Ferrari’s woes continued, with Massa and Alonso never even remotely close to the frontrunners in 6th and 7th places. Jenson Button called off a strategy to run on the prime tyres only, and he took a decent 8th place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

While Red Bull must have been worried in the final few minutes, Vettel seemingly had another tenth or two in the bag in Q3. Whether he can hold off the fast-starting Rosberg and Grosjean in the race is another matter altogether.

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