Hamilton by a whisker in Singapore qualifying

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix in the dying seconds of an enthralling qualifying session. The Brit beta his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg by just seven thousandths of a second to take his sixth pole of the season.

https://i1.wp.com/cdn-6.motorsport.com/static/img/mgl/1700000/1760000/1763000/1763400/1763456/s8/f1-singapore-gp-2014-daniel-ricciardo-lewis-hamilton-and-nico-rosberg.jpg

It was a session unlike so many in 2014 as Mercedes found competition harsher than ever; not from Williams and Red Bull, but Ferrari. The Prancing Horse had shown well in Friday’s two free practice sessions as well topping the times on Saturday morning. Kimi Raikkonen then went fastest in Q1 and looked set for a surprise pole position before a power issue crippled the Finn late in Q3. Normal service was resumed however as Mercedes locked out the front row once more, but they face a staunch fight in Sunday’s race it appears.

Q1 – Ferrari Show their Form

From the outset, it didn’t look plain sailing for the Silver Arrows. Rosberg was force to abort his first flying lap after out-braking himself into turn three. The German quickly selecting reverse was able to escape, but it seemed clear that this was not in the plan.

As was the case throughout practice, the lack of additional GP2 action meant that track conditions were tricky at best. Hamilton had to respond to Alonso going fastest and did so despite locking up on a few occasions. With the car moving around over the bumpy street circuit the Mercedes looked perhaps for the first time this season, a difficult car to drive. The Ferrari, on the other hand looked at ease on the super soft tyres and Alonso duly retook the top spot ahead of team-mate Raikkonen by three tenths of a second.

Out after Q1:

  1. Adrian Sutil
  2. Pastor Maldonado
  3. Jules Bianchi
  4. Kamui Kobayashi
  5. Max Chilton
  6. Marcus Ericsson

Q2 – Too Close to Call

Raikkonen was the first driver back out on circuit in Q2 and immediately set a 1:46.3 to go fastest. Alonso then came round and promptly went 0.3s faster than his team-mate to top the charts and showing that Ferrari may have genuine pace.

Hamilton was now out and back in touch with the Ferraris. Having lost a bit of time in the middle sector, he went fastest by just 0.04s. Then top five now separated by a mere 0.2s and closer than ever.

Reaching the final minutes of the session, the top four of Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and Ricciardo elected to stay in the pits. But Ricciardo must have been sweating even more than usual in the Singapore heat as Massa rose to 4th, and Rosberg went fastest on his first lap out of the pits, by 0.5s.

The order would not change too much at the front though and most were safe. The lower echelons of the top ten however were more than up for grabs. To prove this, Jenson Button missed out by just 0.017s due to a slight lock up at the hairpin on his final flying lap. Force India looked strong early in the session but missed out on Q3, with Hulkenberg 13th and Sergio Pérez 15th.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn-6.motorsport.com/static/img/mgl/1700000/1760000/1763000/1763500/1763576/s8/f1-singapore-gp-2014-fernando-alonso-scuderia-ferrari.jpg

The angriest driver in the drop zone was Romain Grosjean though, as more engine gremlins hampered the Frenchman. The Lotus pilot was clearly agitated and let his team know: “I cannot believe it, bloody engine”. Upon learning that the issue was identical to that which hit him in FP3 he said: “”I don’t care, I don’t care. It’s too much.” Perhaps we might not be seeing Romain in a black car next year.

Out after Q2:

  1. Button
  2. Vergne
  3. Hulkenberg
  4. Gutierrez
  5. Pérez
  6. Grosjean

Q3 – Mercedes Come to the Fore at Last

Surprisingly, and almost out of nowhere, it was the Williams of Felipe Massa who went fastest initially. The Williams car, which is typically more suited to high speed circuits rather than twisty confines of Singapore, struggled for pace on Friday but looked bolted to the ground in the hands of the Brazilian.

Even more surprisingly, neither of the Mercedes drivers was in the top five. Hamilton locked up again on his opening lap and Rosberg bounced clumsily over the turn one kerb; suddenly Mercedes were looking vulnerable. Raikkonen, having found his mojo looked to be loitering with intent come the second runs, but a power issue on his Ferrari limited his efforts to one and he was resigned to 7th on the grid.

Now it was Daniel Ricciardo who looked likely to take pole position; still no sign of the Mercedes pair. The Australian was pushing very hard and narrowly avoided touching the wall on the exit of turn ten. Giving it full beans out of the last corner, Ricciardo went fastest with a 1:45.854 to a bellowing response from the crowd.

Mercedes needed something special to claw back the top spot, and a few seconds later it was Rosberg who went fastest. Hamilton was on a good lap too but a lock up at turn one may well have blown his chance. The Englishman did not let that get in the way though and snuck his second pole position in a row by just 0.007s from Rosberg. Rosberg’s reaction said it all as the fastest time was stolen from right under his nose: “damn it!” the German exclaimed in frustration. Ricciardo would end up third with team mate Sebastian Vettel behind him in fourth. Alonso’s earlier pace would not be transformed into a pole, but the Spaniard will start from fifth, with a shot at the podium: “I think the podium is closer than ever, because the level of competitiveness is quite good this weekend”.

https://i1.wp.com/cdn-8.motorsport.com/static/img/mgl/1700000/1760000/1763000/1763500/1763578/s8/f1-singapore-gp-2014-lewis-hamilton-mercedes-amg-f1-team.jpg

Behind Alonso came Massa who must have been disappointed with the position after leading early on in the final segment. Team mate Bottas was eighth behind compatriot Raikkonen, with Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat rounding out the top ten.

Starting grid for the Singapore Grand Prix
Start time: 13:00 BST

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Daniel Ricciardo
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Fernando Alonso
  6. Felipe Massa
  7. Kimi Raikkonen
  8. Valtteri Bottas
  9. Kevin Magnussen
  10. Daniil Kvyat
  11. Jenson Button
  12. Jean-Eric Vergne
  13. Nico Hülkenberg
  14. Esteban Gutierrez
  15. Sergio Pérez
  16. Romain Grosjean
  17. Adrian Sutil
  18. Pastor Maldonado
  19. Jules Bianchi
  20. Kamui Kobayash
  21. Max Chilton]
  22. Marcus Ericsson

Images: http://www.motorsport.com/photos

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s