Lewis Hamilton took a second consecutive pole position in qualifying for the FIA Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, pushing his McLaren hard through the narrow, light-bathed streets of Singapore. With a 1:46.362 second lap set early in the Q3 session, the Brit secured his spot at the front of the grid, but was cautious as usual about celebrating.
"I hope we’ve done the work we need to do to put us in a strong position for tomorrow," he said.
Pastor Maldonado surprised all the second fastest time at 1: 46.804, relegating Sebastian Vettel—who topped all three practice sessions of the weekend—to 3rd.
"Yeah a litte disappointed," Vettel told reporters, "Especially in Q3, we didn't do the last step." The last step, of course, is the fastest time in the final and most important session. "If you do not do the last step in qualifying it is a shame as the speed was there, but it didn't come together in the end."
Jenson Button’s time will start him 4th on the grid tomorrow; returning winner Fernando Alonso’s was fast enough for 5th. He was the only Ferrari driver out in Q3, as Felipe Massa could not improve on his Q2 time and will start 13th.
Paul Di Resta's 6th-placed lap proved the Sahara Force India team's outright speed at Singapore, only hinted at by surprisingly good practice times. the young Scot could be the surprise of the night on Sunday.
Though the Red Bulls were expected to dominate and Vettel was certainly capable of doing so, Mark Webber could only manage 7th in the late session. Not known for good race starts, the Singapore GP could severely curtail his championship hunt.
Meanwhile, the Lotus team continued to suffer the bright streets. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean had struggled to find pace in the practices, and eventually resorted to using sets of valuable super-soft tires to advance through the quali sessions. Still, Raikkonen was caught out in Q2 by faster laps from Di Resta and Michael Schumacher, ending the day in 12th. His teammate then had to push almost too hard in the final round to even secure 8th, sliding and bouncing off Marina Bay's concrete barriers.
While both Mercedes cars made it to Q3, both neglected to set a time, saving their tires for late in Sunday's long race. Schumacher will lead Nico Rosberg in 9th-10th.
Further down in the early knockout zones were both Saubers, Kamui Kobayashi failing to emerge even from the first round, and Perez, coming off a podium at Monza, in 14th. He cited a lack of improvement from the team's latest update package, and his teammate cited setup troubles.
“We have tried everything but could not get rid of the huge oversteer," Kobayashi said, frustrated. "I have no confidence in the car and this is really the last thing you want to have to cope with on such a street circuit...I don’t see how I can recover in the race from where I am starting, but I will not give up, this is certain."
Other major occurrences were, of course, the crashes. Bruno Senna made it three incidents on the weekend, compounding Friday's practice-stopping incident with a slight wall clip today and then a back-tire smash into the barrier, actually punching a hole in the concrete wall. He did manage a few clean laps though, and for that he will start 17th.
Before qualifying commenced, in Free Practice 3, Vitaly Petrov also met the limits of Singapore, making contact and spinning across track and inducing a red flag. With the red being shown, Marussia's Charles Pic continued to overtake and was duly handed a time penalty for the race and an order of FIA "community service," or a few forced public safety briefing appearances.