Hamilton Tops Tight Qualifying In Singapore

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On a night where the top five drivers were separated by less than three tenths of a second, it was Lewis Hamilton who eked that little bit more to snatch pole for the Singapore Grand Prix. His team-mate Nico Rosberg lost out on pole position by just 0.007 – seven thousandths of a second. Daniel Ricciardo out-qualified Sebastian Vettel to finish the session in third. It was a session which looked as if was heading for a tense conclusion featuring Ferrari but the Italian team could not make it when it counted. The battle for pole was left to Mercedes and Red Bull. Daniel Ricciardo was first of the four drivers to finish his final lap, to huge cheers from the crowd. Vettel was next but could only manage fourth. Rosberg then came and took provisional pole but it was the final lap of the hour from Lewis Hamilton that settled a close fight for the head of the grid.

Pleased to be in a good position to lead the field into turn one on a weekend which the Englishman must realistically win to claw back the points deficit to Rosberg, Hamilton said he thought a mistake at the first corner had cost him the shot at pole, and how surprised he was at the closeness of the drivers.

“I locked up at the apex. I was down two tenths by the time I got to Turn 5, I thought it would be impossible to regain it, but the previous lap there were a couple of corners where I lost out, so I sorted them out.”

“The others have taken a step, it is a real, real surprise,” said Hamilton.

“I’m just as surprised to see Ferrari competing on a lap, which is great to see, also Williams and Red Bull.

“For racing it is great. That is the most exciting qualifying session I have had for a long time. You have to be spot on and I was almost there.”

Rosberg shouted "Damn it!" from his cockpit after being informed of how close he came to pole

Rosberg shouted “Damn it!” from his cockpit after being informed of how close he came to pole

Rosberg’s annoyance at missing out on pole was clear as the German blurted out his frustration on the pit radio after being told the gap between him and the polesitter at the end of the session. A change of brakes could have been the contributing factor said Rosberg, as he had been feeling good with the previous brake pads.

“We changed brakes going into qualifying and I got into a rhythm with the other brakes, so that was a challenge,” said Rosberg.

“We expected it to be, but it took me some time to get into qualifying, and the balance difference as the track had cooled down.

“I had to completely adapt to the setting and it took me some time to get into the car.”

“Seven thousandths, when I think back to the lap, is nothing,” said Rosberg.

“A bit more here or there and I could have done it.

“Lewis did a good job to get pole, so fair play. Second place is OK, first place would be better, there’s a long race ahead and it is fine.”

Ricciardo has been quicker than Vettel this season

Ricciardo has been quicker than Vettel this season

Day or night, Daniel Ricciardo seems to be unstoppable when it comes to beating his team-mate as he out-qualified Sebastian Vettel at a track which Vettel has won at in each of the previous three years. Ricciardo took heart from being under two tenths behind the Mercedes duo, feeling that the Red Bulls can challenge for a race win on merit.

“It is definitely encouraging,” said the Australian.

“Coming into the weekend I thought if we could get within two or three tenths it should give us some optimism to stay close to them [in the race].

“We are closer than we thought.”

Vettel is now focused on a good race with tyre usage of high importance

Vettel is now focused on a good race with tyre usage of high importance

Sebastian Vettel was disappointed to let what he felt was a pole chance slip by. Vettel is yet to finish on pole this season and stated that Singapore seemed like a good chance to end the barren pole run. Tyres will be a big factor in the race and it is something the Red Bull driver is relying on.

“It is small things, but it adds up and you never get the grip that you were hoping for in the first place,” he said.

“It is difficult to say how much I lost, but I lost some time even to the lap before to a used or scrub set in those corners.

“I don’t know how happy other people were with their lap but I think pole was manageable today.”

“I think it will be very tricky tomorrow, because if everyone’s pace is like we saw today we are all very, very close to each other,” he said.

“If you can go two tenths faster around here, then you will not overtake. So it is not straightforward.

“But the tyres will fall apart at some stage and then create a mess, so that is what hopefully we can wait for.

“And hopefully we are not falling apart before the others are in trouble, but we will see. ”

Alonso put in a typically strong showing

Alonso put in a typically strong showing

Fernando Alonso looked like he could be a surprise pole position contender only to fall short in what was one of Ferrari’s best qualifying performances of the year. Alonso said that a lack of long straights at Singapore could have helped ease the weaknesses of the Ferrari car and stated that his aim was for a podium.

“It was quite a surprise for us, to be honest,” said Alonso. “Two tenths from pole position is something that we could not imagine yesterday.

“In free practice we normally are competitive, and then in qualy we lose some ground. But it didn’t happen here. In qualy we were competitive also, so that was good news.”

“The reasons are not clear. Probably the track characteristics suit our car a little bit better,” he said.

“We know that power effect is quite low here.

“I felt confident in the car from lap one.

“I think we need to see how the race develops,” Alonso added.

“We’ll see. I think the podium is closer than ever, because the level of competitiveness is quite good this weekend.

“We are competitive and we start in the top five so why not think of the podium? But victory is very optimistic, but we’ll see.”

Grosjean has grown tired of an uncompetitive and unreliable Lotus

Grosjean has grown tired of an uncompetitive and unreliable Lotus

Romain Grosjean showed his feelings when a engine problem in Q2 meant that he could only qualify in 16th. Grosjean yelled on the radio in an exasperated manner which left no one in any doubt that the Lotus teams’ 2014 issues are becoming too frequent for its drivers to handle calmly.

“I had it [the same problem] in FP3, twice in the lap, which wasn’t too bad,” Grosjean said. “Then it was just worse. That’s why I was a bit annoyed.

“Everybody is working so hard. Then you go into qualifying and you know it’s your best shot in a long time, and you know the race is crazy, and P13 is not that far from the points, and then you lose time on the straightline…

“I don’t like to openly complain, but sometimes it’s so hard for all of us. Everybody is trying to do their best.

“It’s hard, it’s hot, it’s humid. We work hard. I take every single risk that I can on the track.”

 

Singapore Grand Prix Grid

Pos Driver Car Time Gap
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m45.681s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m45.688s 0.007s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m45.854s 0.173s
4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull/Renault 1m45.902s 0.221s
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m45.907s 0.226s
6 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m46.000s 0.319s
7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m46.170s 0.489s
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m46.187s 0.506s
9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Mercedes 1m46.250s 0.569s
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m47.362s 1.681s
11 Jenson Button McLaren/Mercedes 1m46.943s 1.262s
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso/Renault 1m46.989s 1.308s
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m47.308s 1.627s
14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber/Ferrari 1m47.333s 1.652s
15 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m47.575s 1.894s
16 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Renault 1m47.812s 2.131s
17 Adrian Sutil Sauber/Ferrari 1m48.324s 2.643s
18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Renault 1m49.063s 3.382s
19 Jules Bianchi Marussia/Ferrari 1m49.440s 3.759s
20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham/Renault 1m50.405s 4.724s
21 Max Chilton Marussia/Ferrari 1m50.473s 4.792s
22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham/Renault 1m52.287s 6.606s

 

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