Fernando Alonso took pole position under the lights for tomorrow's Singapore night race in a thrilling battle with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.
Fernando Alonso took pole position under the lights for tomorrow's Singapore night race in a thrilling battle with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. The pair traded fastest sector times in the final runs, but Vettel brushed the wall, handing Alonso pole by a tenth of a second. It was his 20th career pole and the second in a row this season. Lewis Hamilton was third for 4/10ths ahead of McLaren ahead of team mate Jenson Button and Red Bull's Mark Webber.
The session had started with a scare for Ferrari - Felipe Massa stopped out on the track during Q1, before he had even set a time. He reported a suspected engine failure. This would appear to be an unlucky engine for Massa - the one that he used in the German Grand Prix, where he was forced to hand the win to his team mate. In fact it turned out not to be the engine, but the gearbox.
In the second session, Alonso radioed in that his engine didn’t feel right and asked the team to check the data being transmitted from his car. He was on a hot lap when they radioed him back to tell him to pit so they could reprogramme his car. He pointed out calmly that as he was nearly at the end of a good lap he should finish it first then pit. The team agreed with him.
This was an example of a driver leading a team, precisely the kind of thing Ferrari hired him for.
Among the new teams, the updates brought by the Virgin team certainly boosted them ahead of Lotus. Timo Glock had a margin of 2/10ths of a second over the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen. Meanwhile Christian Klein, who was stepping into the Hispania for the first time, beat Bruno Senna by 1.3 seconds.
Vitaly Petrov made another error, losing the back end on the damp patch on the outside of Turn 5. It's not the first time he's lost control of a car on a damp patch and it adds to the already longish list of mistakes he's made.
Also eliminated in Q2 was Nico Hulkenberg, whose Williams had looked good enough for him to make the top ten all weekend. He was furious with himself and threw his gloves across the garage and smashed his helmet down, unfortunately for him, it was caught on TV. Both Force India cars were off the pace this weekend, Sutil 16th and Liuzzi 17th. Nick Heidfeld on his return to competitive action was 15th a second slower than Kobayashi.
On the first runs in Q3 Red Bull fed Vettel out onto the track too close behind Michael Schumacher and it cost him the run, Webber's lap was also affected. So it was all on the final runs. Webber couldn't find the speed, ending up half a second behind his team mate. He said that this was more or less the best he could manage not having ever felt at home on this track this weekend. For him it is a percentage game in tomorrow's race.
In the final runs of Q3 Vettel was faster in the first and third sectors, but dropped time to Alonso in the middle sector.
Vettel: 28.382 41.258 35.817
Alonso: 28.497 41.094 35.854
That's how close it is over a lap of 1m 46 seconds!
Vettel still thinks that the Red Bull is the faster car and accepted that it was his fault that he didn't get pole today,
"I think we have an advantage, yes, but as it turned out in qualifying the others were a little bit closer and we did not get it all together. Probably we should have gone quicker but would, should, could. Can’t change it now, " he said.
Other notable performances were Rubens Barrichello who was 6th for Williams. This is a track the team has always performed well on and the new front wing and new diffuser on Barrichello's car made a real difference. The team is once again finishing the season more strongly than it started with 39 points in the last six races and plenty more likely to come for Barrichello tomorrow.
Rosberg was again three tenths faster than team mate Michael Schumacher, while Kamui Kobayashi pulled out a whole second on his new team mate Nick Heidfeld.
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- Formula 1