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Hamilton pips Rosberg to Singapore pole by seven thousandths of a second

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Hamilton pips Rosberg to Singapore pole by seven thousandths of a second
Sep 20, 2014, 3:29 PM

“Damn it!” barked Nico Rosberg down the radio after Lewis Hamilton pipped him to pole for the Singapore Grand Prix by seven thousandths of a se...

“Damn it!” barked Nico Rosberg down the radio after Lewis Hamilton pipped him to pole for the Singapore Grand Prix by seven thousandths of a second, despite dropping time with a front wheel lock-up in Turn 1 on his pole lap.

That equates to a margin of just 33.5 cm over a 3.17-mile lap.

The pole is Hamilton’s sixth of the season so far and the 37th of his F1 career. It is his first pole here in Singapore since 2012, while his only win on this 3.17 mile street circuit came in 2009. For Mercedes it was pole number 13 of the season, with only Austria missing from the set. But this one was close, with three tenths separating the top five cars.

"The others have taken a step, it is a real, real surprise," said Hamilton. "I'm just as surprised to see Ferrari competing on a lap, which is great to see, also Williams and Red Bull.

"For racing it is great. That is the most exciting qualifying session I have had for a long time. You have to be spot on and I was almost there."

Third on the grid will be Daniel Ricciardo who finished a tenth and a half adrift of Hamilton’s pole time and five hundredths of a second clear of team-mate Sebastian Vettel in fourth place in a very tight grid. Fernando Alonso will start from fifth for the fifth time in 14 races.

It was another dry session in Singapore, but only just; the heavens opened half an hour after the session ended with a torrential downpour.

Mercedes saved the best until last, having not topped the time sheets in Free Practice 3 or qualifying up to that point. Felipe Massa had stunned the paddock with provisional pole position on the first runs in Q3, but both Mercedes were on used supersofts for that run and fitted new ones for the final push, Rosberg was 6/10ths faster on them.

Fernando Alonso

In the opening session, Ferrari set the early pace, with Fernando Alonso (1:48.203) topping the times, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who posted a lap of 1:48.583.

Nico Robserg had a nervous moment early on when he outbraked himself and was forced to take an escape road. His first clean lap of the session out him fourth, as Hamilton jumped to the top of the time sheet.

It had been predicted that Mercedes might attempt to make it through to Q2 on the prime tyre, but with the performance gap between the soft and the option supersoft at over two seconds, even they were forced to switch to the red-banded tyre as the session wore on

The Red Bulls only emerged after 10 minutes, heading straight for option rubber. Vettel’s first run wasn’t plain sailing, however, with the German coming across the slow Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat, which prompted the Red Bull man to gesticulate furiously at the Russian youngster.

At the end of the opening 18-minute session it was Kimi Raikkonen who emerged with the fastest lap, a time of 1:46.685. That was two tenths better than team-mate Alonso, and 0.136s clear of third-placed Hamilton.

Jenson Button was fourth for McLaren, with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Williams with a lap of 1:47.196. The Red Bulls eased through to Q2 with Vettel in ninth and Ricciardo in 10th

There were few surprises in the knock-out zone. Eliminated in order were Sauber's Adrian Sutil, Lotus' Pastor Maldonado, Jules Bianchi, Kamui Kobayashi, Max Chilton and Marcus Ericsson. Of some note, however, was the lap of Bianchi. The Marussia driver might not have made it to Q2, but his lap of 1:49.440 was a full second quicker than his team-mate's and those of his Caterham rivals.

When Q2 got underway, Raikkonen again jumped to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1:46.359. That was soon eclipsed by Alonso, who went 0.031s than his team-mate.

Rosberg’s first lap left him third, two tenths down on the Ferraris, but then Hamilton pushed Mercedes to the top of the pile with a lap four hundredths of a second clear of Alonso’s.

With the final runs in the offing, the order at the top was Hamilton followed by Alonso, Raikkonen and Ricciardo.

Those three didn’t change order but Rosberg’s final lap of the session, in which he was fastest though all three sectors, saw him steal P1. Fifth place went to Massa, followed by the twin Red Bulls of Ricciardo and Vettel. Bottas finished eighth, with Kevin Magnussen putting in an excellent final lap to claim ninth.

Daniil Kvyat claimed the last place in Q3, beating Jenson Button to the place in the final shootout but just under two hundredths of a second.

Also eliminated was Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne, who finished in 11th place, just six hundredths off team-mate Kvyat’s time. Vergne was followed by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, the second Force India of Sergio Perez and the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. The Frenchman was particularly frustrated, howling "I cannot believe it! Bloody engine! Bloody engine! We break our balls for this?" to his pit wall.

At the end of Q2, Rosberg was also heard complaining the Vettel had baulked him during a run, with the Mercedes pit wall saying they would look into the issue.

Felipe Massa

After the first runs in Q3 it was Massa who sat at the top of the list, with a time of 1:46.007. The Williams driver was followed by Ricciardo, six hundredths back, and Alonso, who was a tenth down on his former team-mate. Raikkonen was fourth ahead of Bottas, while Hamilton was the fastest of the Mercedes, with a time of 1:46.230. Rosberg was seventh, five hundredths down on his team-mate.

Midway through his final run, disaster struck for Raikkonen. The Finn reported that he had no power and was forced to return to the pits where he retired from the session.

Ricciardo was the first to make his move on pole and he immediately ousted Massa with a lap of 1:45.854. Rosberg was the next up, the German knocking Ricciardo off with his fastest lap of 1:45.688.

Hamilton, though, had still to cross the line and despite a lock-up in turn one at the start of his lap, he continued to improve throughout and when he crossed the line he was ahead by an incredibly fine margin.

Afterwards, Rosberg said that he was still happy with second place and that it was a good platform, the fact is that four from six races here have been won from pole and Hamilton will very much go into tomorrow’s battle with the upper hand.

Singapore Grand Prix - Qualifying

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:46.921 1:46.287 1:45.681 17

2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:47.244 1:45.825 1:45.688 19

3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:47.488 1:46.493 1:45.854 12

4 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:47.476 1:46.586 1:45.902 15

5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:46.889 1:46.328 1:45.907 16

6 Felipe Massa Williams 1:47.615 1:46.472 1:46.000 20

7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:46.685 1:46.359 1:46.170 14

8 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:47.196 1:46.622 1:46.187 18

9 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:47.976 1:46.700 1:46.250 18

10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:47.656 1:46.926 1:47.362 21

11 Jenson Button McLaren 1:47.161 1:46.943 12

12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:47.407 1:46.989 14

13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:47.370 1:47.308 13

14 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:47.970 1:47.333 9

15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:48.143 1:47.575 13

16 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:47.862 1:47.812 14

17 Adrian Sutil Sauber 1:48.324 6

18 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:49.063 8

19 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:49.440 7

20 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:50.405 8

21 Max Chilton Marussia 1:50.473 7

22 Marcus Ericsson Caterham 1:52.287 5
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