Pole under the lights for Nico Rosberg.
Marina Bay magic by Nico Rosberg secured the German pole position by half a second at the Singapore Grand Prix. As Hamilton struggled, Ricciardo resurged and Grosjean crashed and hampered Q2.
When the green light came on to join the thousands illuminating the track, Pascal Wehrlein broke the silence and qualifying commenced.
But while the Manor lapped the Bay, it was Nico Rosberg posting the first flying lap to top the board with a 1:45.316. A time instantly bettered by his team-mate, as Hamilton edged away a tenth at a time across the first and middle sectors.
When the Silver Arrows returned to their garages, however, they had an unlikely challenger nestling in behind. As Sainz lapped the streets just three-tenths down on Hamilton despite being on the supersoft tyres. Fernando Alonso, too, snuck into third just the two-tenths down on Hamilton while on ultrasoft tyres.
Third and fourth for Fernando and Carlos, however, were shortly lived as Raikkonen took P1 – two-tenths up on Lewis. With Verstappen just seven-hundredths of a second down on the Ferrari.
As for the other Ferrari, Vettel was hitting issues – as the German reported something had broke.
“Okay I think the front anti-roll bar broke, there’s something wrong with the car,” claimed Vettel.
Vettel reported his issue with seven minutes remaining on the clock. Not enough time to pit and fix and without a time set, Sebastian was forced to stay out in hope of posting a time strong enough to beat the drop.
But with a wheel leaving the ground every time he turned in, Vettel could not continue and rolled back to the pits. Ending Q1 without a flying lap, the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix pole-sitter will start this year’s race at the back of the grid.
While Vettel could not fly, Ricciardo flew. Posting new fastest sectors across the track on route to P1, seven-tenths of a second faster than Raikkonen and nine-tenths up on Hamilton.
Kvyat, too, was on a charge following a change from supersofts to ultras. Moving him up to fifth at the flag, only for Button to demote the Toro Rosso by three-hundredths of a second.
Meanwhile, in the battle to avoid the drop with Vettel, Ericsson led the way as he edged into 16th.
Palmer followed but was unable to demote the Sauber after a lock up into turn one. While Magnussen & Nasr crossed the line to improve their times, but only enough for 17th and 18th.
Like in Q1, Rosberg drew first blood in Q2. But this time, Hamilton could not better his team-mate, crossing the four-tenths off of Rosberg’s 1:43.020. Showing a massive improvement from their times set in the first qualifying stage.
The gains made by the Mercedes’ meant when Raikkonen crossed the line for third, he found himself 1.1 seconds down on Rosberg’s time.
Ricciardo then swooned into third, edging Verstappen by a tenth of a second. But still nine-tenths down on the pace-setting Rosberg.
Once again, the first run was strong for Sainz as he ended his lap just three-tenths down on Raikkonen for sixth. When the chequered flag fell, the only driver to move ahead of him was his team-mate.
But for others, the end of Q2 was hampered by yellows as Romain Grosjean heavily crashed out of the session at turn 11.
The Haas that has been causing Romain issues all weekend appeared to lock at the rear, sending the Frenchman sideways into the barriers without a chance to save it.
With yellow flags waving, the Williams duo on the cusp of elimination were unable to improve and found themselves out in Q2. But while Gutierrez slowed in the other Haas further around the track, Perez rolled by as he cruised on the brakes – losing minimal time.
Then as Sergio spotted a green light on exit, he pushed again and improved on his previous personal best time to move into a top-1o position. Eliminating both Williams drivers as Button parked his McLaren.
But, as Sergio lost just a tenth of a second under the yellow flags for Grosjean’s crash and then overtook Gutierrez under yellows, Perez was handed an eight-place grid penalty for the Singapore Grand Prix. As for Romain, he too took a five-place grid penalty but as a result of a gearbox change.
Jenson had found himself tw0-tenths down on Massa’s 10th place prior to the second runs, and was lapping marginally up on the cut-off time by the end of the second sector. But a lock-up at turn 14 cost Jenson his shot as he brushed the wall and punctured his tyre. Forcing the Briton to end his qualifying.
While Button retired, Alonso in the other McLaren kept pushing as he was ahead of the yellow flags. Going one tenth up on the cut off in sector two and ending his lap in 8th place, moving into Q3.
After a 10-minute delay to proceedings while the tecpro barrier damaged by Grosjean was repaired, Ricciardo opened the provisional shoot-out with a 1:43.741.
But Ricciardo’s time in P1 was short lived as Rosberg smashed Daniel’s time, and the previous best around the Marina Bay Circuit, taking the top spot by over a second.
Nico’s rapid 1:42.584 meant when Hamilton crossed the line he faced a seven-tenth deficit to his team-mate going into the final run. A tall order to face.
Like Hamilton, Verstappen ended his provisional run behind his team-mate as he struggled to generate the heat he desired in his tyres. And come the second runs, pushed ahead of Rosberg as he hunted heat.
Verstappen kept pushing once the stopwatch began, narrowly improving in the first sector but still lapping slower than his team-mate.
And without improving in sector two, Verstappen fell further behind his improving team-mate as Ricciardo set a new purple sector three and snatched the front row away from Hamilton.
Hamilton had struggled in his second run, running wide at the start of the lap and again at the start of the second sector.
By the time Lewis crossed the line, he was lapping a second down on Rosberg’s benchmark and only secured third on the grid by four-hundredths of a second.
As for Rosberg, he narrowly missed out on improving his benchmark. But will begin the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix from pole position and in an optimal place to secure the win and take the championship lead.
Ricciardo, however, will have his say in who will win on Sunday. With the Red Bull looking more than competitive in race pace and will start the race on the supersoft tyre rather than the ultras fitted to the Silver Arrow.
|2||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1’43.115||0.531|
|4||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1’43.328||0.744|
|6||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||1’44.197||1.613|
|7||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1’44.469||1.885|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||1’44.479||1.895|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India||1’44.582||1.998|