For the start of the third free practice session for tomorrow's Singapore Grand Prix, the circuit was still damp after an earlier downpour, so the track was declared wet, allowing the engineers the possibility of running the installation lap on wet tyres.
The drivers reported that the track would soon be dry enough for slicks, and after a short period of inactivity, both proceeded to set some competitive times in a session which clearly showed that the performance gap to the new teams is continuing to fall. Timo set the best time of the new teams, despite being unhappy with the car's balance on the softer Option tyre, and Lucas's fastest lap was compromised by a yellow flag, so the team was confident of a solid performance in qualifying.
For the first run of qualifying, Lucas went out on the Prime tyre, while Timo chose Options. Timo set the fastest "new teams" lap and then Q1 was effectively split into two sessions when the Ferrari of Felipe Massa caused the session to be red flagged. For the second run both drivers chose Options, and it was in the very last seconds of the session that Heikki Kovalainen managed to split the Virgin Racing pair.
"I'm very happy with our performance today, both as a team and from my point of view. The car was not easy to drive but I got everything I could out of it today. We were using the soft tyre a little too hard, especially at the rear, so maybe if it had stayed consistent we could have squeezed another tenth or two out of the car. Overall though a good performance to be the best of the new teams once more and now I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I really like this circuit, especially when the conditions are drying, so I hope for a similar track in the race and we will see what we can do."
Lucas di Grassi:
"A very good qualifying performance from us, with me finishing in front of one Lotus. Even though I missed out on one of the practice sessions it feels like my best qualifying of the year. It's a very difficult track so every time I get in the car I'm still improving, a tenth here, half a tenth there. I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow."
John Booth, Team Principal:
"A very satisfying day. Both car crews worked well to solve the issues of yesterday and tune the car balance for qualifying despite the tricky conditions today. Timo has been on top form all weekend and put in a great qualifying session to head the new teams throughout. Lucas also did a great job to make up for lost time yesterday and was unlucky to be pipped by Kovalainen right at the end. Both cars have run reliably this weekend and we look forward to an exciting race tomorrow.