The qualifying star under the stars in Singapore was Lewis Hamilton after a table topping 1:45:681 secured the Brit pole position. Hamilton fought off fierce competition from Rosberg and the Ferrari’s across qualifying. But by just 7 thousandths of a second, Hamilton secured P1.
Alonso went into qualifying on the back off topping the final free practice session ahead of Ricciardo and Rosberg. The Mercedes duo under performed in the final practice session with Hamilton forced to settle for sixth, despite topping FP2.
When the green light joined the lights illuminating the track, the 18 minutes of Q1 were underway. The first driver of the session to hit the streets of Singapore was the Russian, Kvyat. He was soon joined by most of the field as everyone headed out on the soft tyres. But just minutes later, Lotus, Marussia and Caterham sent their drivers out on the faster, supersoft tyres.
Before the banker laps began to fall, Rosberg was going on an adventure down the escape road. He had left it slightly too late to break, and to prevent a heavy black spot on his front-left tyre, opted to use the run off and reverse back onto the track.
But when the banker laps began to fall, Jean-Eric Vergne took the early lead. Unfortunately for Marcus Ericsson, a problem with his car prevented him from joining the action early on. Although, when he joined the action, he was only able to qualify in last place.
Another driver suffering early on was Grosjean, who was struck with a brake problem. As it turned out this was not a serious issue and, unlike his team-mate, he was able to progress into Q2.
Now even the cars at the front of the grid had joined the track using the supersoft tyres, Hamilton begun the battle for the top spot.
Ricciardo was the next to challenge and take the top spot, but Hulkenberg stormed up the time sheet in his Force India to knock the Aussie off the perch.
Although he has been in the shadow of his team-mate across the weekend, Raikkonen was next to move on top. After an impressive lap, he put Alonso in his shadow for a change as the Spaniard was only able to move into P2.
When the chequered flag fell, it was looking like Maldonado and Sutil would be joining Marussia and Caterham out of Q1, but Massa was in danger if one could improve dramatically. However, it was Massa who improved and ensured his place in Q2.
As for Q2, it began with the drivers hitting the track immediately on the supersofts. Perez set the early benchmark time in his Force India but soon saw that benchmark tumble-down.
Over the first stint, Ferrari and Hamilton battled for the top spot once more with the Brit taking the advantage. But when the seconds stints begun, the drivers at the front stayed put in their garages confident of making it through.
As it turned out, their confidence was justified but for Button, even a second run was not enough to make it into Q3. He was able to find a slight advantage to his previous best time but compared to the others, P11 was all he could secure.
Button was joined out in Q2 by; Vergne, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez, Perez and Grosjean.
Come the green light of Q3 to initiate the top ten shoot out, Massa lead the field away from the pits.
When the first timed laps of the session got underway, Massa was able to hold on to a surprise lead with Ricciardo and Raikkonen tucking in behind. Up until Q3 the battle had clearly been between the two Mercedes and Ferrari’s, but with their Q3 banker laps Mercedes were only good enough for P6 and 7. Meaning a lot was riding on their final runs.
A run that did not get off to the perfect start for Hamilton as he locked his front tyre and missed the apex. Over the course of the lap, his main job became not to fight for pole but to claw the lost time back in a hope that pole could still be in reach.
After leaving the pits with four minutes of the session remaining, Daniel Ricciardo was the first to set his final qualifying time. A storming 1:45:854 sent the crowd into a sea of cheers as the Aussie took provisional pole.
However, those cheers were soon extinguished as Rosberg moved ahead by 2 tenths of a second. Following Hamilton’s earlier lock up it looked like pole was going to the championship leader. But a late push saw Hamilton pip his team-mate to pole by just 7 thousandths of a second. Sparking a great piece of radio communication from Rosberg. As the team informed him that he had not secured pole, Rosberg exclaimed “damn it!” to show his displeasure in the situation.
But for Raikkonen, after showing early signs of contention, he was not able to compete in the final run. A very slow out lap saw Raikkonen overtaken by multiple drivers including Alonso, but a loss of power meant Kimi was going nowhere quick.
Williams continued their progress over the weekend after securing 6th with Massa and 8th with Bottas in qualifying. The team had started the weekend poorly with 13th and 15th in FP1, followed by 17th and 18th in FP2 but improved to get both cars in the top 10 in FP3. Looking ahead to the race they should be able to hold on to a top 10 position, providing reliability troubles do not creep in and the changes made between FP2 and 3 aided their long-range pace.
In contrast, Ferrari’s challenging position with Mercedes across FP1, 2 & 3 as well as in Q1 & 2 deteriorated and the best Alonso could achieve was P5. That means he will start the race behind both Mercedes and both Red Bull’s.
As for Hamilton, he will start from pole position for the sixth time this season as he leads the field away from the grid in Singapore. With Rosberg joining him on the front row, by the tiniest of margins, it also means Mercedes have secured their seventh front row lock out of the year.
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:47.488||1:46.493||1:45.854||12|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:47.476||1:46.586||1:45.902||15|
|13||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:47.370||1:47.308||13|
|15||11||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1:48.143||1:47.575||13|
|Q1 107% Time||1:54.152|