Singapore GP: Vettel wins 11th pole of 2011
Jenson Button took third for McLaren, 0.005s ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who had picked up a puncture later in Q2 and only did one early run in Q3.
The best Ferrari could manage was fifth and sixth, ahead of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes, with Fernando Alonso a second quicker than Felipe Massa.
"It was a very good lap," confirmed Ferrari's Pat Fry, "we just need to build him a quicker car."
With five races remaining after Singapore, Nigel Mansell's record of 14 pole positions in a season, which has stood since 1992, looks set to be eclipsed by the fastest man in F1, Sebastian, who like Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, dominated their era.
Mark Webber (2nd, 1:44.732): "I'm pretty happy with that. It's been a pretty testing venue for me in the past, particularly on Saturdays, although racing I normally go a bit better around here. Seb laid it down pretty hard and fast for all of us today - he's very quick round here and he did a great job for the pole. It's pretty rare he makes a mistake. He was very quick for the whole lap and to put it all together for all of us is very challenging here - it's easy to make up a bit, but then lose it on the next straight. Overall I'm satisfied and given the curveballs that teams can face around here to have both cars up there is a great result for us."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "A fantastic team performance. To secure an all front row is phenomenal and it's our best qualifying performance in Singapore. It was a tricky qualifying session, navigating the traffic early on and needing to get clean laps. It came down to Q3 and Sebastian produced a phenomenal first lap which was good enough for pole. On the second run he made a small mistake at Turn 10 and aborted the lap to save the tires, which puts him in great shape for tomorrow. Mark made a big step on the last run - it was a good effort from him at a track which he has not been totally comfortable at all weekend, so a great performance by him and a great effort by the team to have locked out the front row."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: It was difficult to do a better result than this today. I think from the beginning of the weekend Sebastian's pace was pretty good and he did a really solid qualifying session. Mark did a great first sector, which allowed him to come back and lock out the front row, so it's a good way to start tomorrow's race. We will see tomorrow - many things can happen, there are lots of corners and the weather can change, so it can be quite difficult - but I'm happy with this start to the weekend."
Jenson Button (3rd, 1:44.804): "We did a lot of work overnight, so the car is now working very well and we should be pretty happy with what we've achieved so far this weekend. Qualifying was a bit tricky in terms of getting the car to work in all three sectors. We're putting a lot of heat into the tires - so if we push hard in the first sector, we lose rear-end grip by the third sector. It's difficult trying to find that balance, but I think we got reasonably close to it this evening. It's only a short run down to Turn One, but I'd still like to be at least second into the first corner, so as to be able to challenge Seb [Vettel] from early on. Lining up third also means I'll be starting from the clean side of the grid. Tomorrow will be all about looking after the rear tires: it's a long race - the longest of the season - so it's going to be hard and hot. A lot could happen tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Lewis Hamilton (4th, 1:44.809): "I had a pretty eventful time in all three qualifying sessions: in Q1, I damaged part of the floor on the curbs and the mechanics did an absolutely fantastic job to get it fixed and the car turned around for the next session. So I want to say a big 'thanks' to the guys for pulling out all the stops. I'm still not entirely sure how I picked up the puncture at the end of Q2. I went over a curb at Turn 10 and the tire sensors detected a sudden loss of pressure. There are quite a few bolts hanging out of the curbs, so I guess it could have been one of those, but we don't really know. At the end of Q3, we had an issue with the refuelling process - we couldn't get enough fuel into the car quick enough. In the end, we just ran out of time, so I couldn't fit in my final run. But that's racing, and sometimes these things happen. Fortunately, my first Q3 run had been very good. I reckon there was still a bit more time to come - I lost some time behind Fernando [Alonso], when I got within a second of his car in the final sector of the lap - so if I'd managed to get another run in Q3 I'd have probably been able to make up some time there. But, all in all, fourth place isn't too bad - and, as I say, the most encouraging thing is that we've still got more pace up our sleeve. So, yes, I think the front row could have been possible. There's only a short run down to Turn One tomorrow, which means it'll be hard to overtake in the initial run down to the first braking point, so I think the race is going to be less about the start and more about looking after the tires."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Jenson did a fantastic job to recover from what by his own admission was a difficult day at the office yesterday, to post the third-fastest qualifying lap today. In fact, he was a bit unlucky to be pipped by Mark [Webber] at the very end of the session, and he'd been looking good for a front-row grid slot until then. Lewis drove really well today too, and will consequently start from the second row alongside Jenson tomorrow. In fact, he may have been able to improve on that time, had he been able to put in an extra lap in Q3, but unfortunately we had an issue with our refuelling process. That, combined with a puncture and a randomly selected visit to the FIA weighbridge, both in Q2, made for a rather eventful afternoon for him. So, to sum up, we're very confident that both our drivers will be able to mount robust and combative challenges in tomorrow evening's race, and as always the Singaporean Grand Prix promises to provide enough floodlit drama to have Formula 1 fans glued to their TV screens all over the world."
Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:44.874): "I am pleased with this qualifying, because I think that might have been my best Q3 lap of the whole year. I gave it 120%, taking risks in some corners, but that was the only way I could hope to fight for the top places. If I'd driven a normal lap, I would have finished in the same position, but half a second off the two McLarens, rather than less than a tenth. Sure, if I was in front of Hamilton and Button, then it would be a completely different story, but that's how it turned out and there's no point saying we were unlucky. I am convinced that a podium finish is within our reach. Usually, we go better in the race than in qualifying and there is no reason why that should not be the case here. We will try and make up some places at the start, even if, at this track, there is not much of a run from the start line to the first corner. Then we will try and make the most of our strategy and any eventual tire degradation levels lower than that of some our opponents. This is a very hard race for the mechanical parts of the car and the Safety Car is usually involved: we will see what happens, but, I say it again, I am confident in our chances of getting to the podium."
Felipe Massa (6th, 1:45.800): "Sixth is definitely not the result we were aiming for, but we have to accept it. Now we must think about the race which definitely does not look like being an easy one: tire degradation is significant, both on the Soft and the Supersoft and will have to be able to adapt to that as best we can. I think that, as never before, getting the strategy right will be the key to having a good race. We are definitely more competitive here than we were in Monza. Today, it was not easy putting together a perfect lap and, even if the car was much improved compared to the last free practice session, I still had a lot of oversteer, especially when the rear tires were overheating in the second and third sectors. The incident with Hamilton? Honestly, I don't understand why he wanted to pass at all costs: we were all in a line on our "out" lap and there was nothing to be gained from acting like that."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "This qualifying mirrors the championship. There is one driver and car combination that is all but untouchable and then four drivers who are fighting it out to the nearest hundredth of a second, the same four who can be found battling for second place in the classification. Clearly, we are a bit disappointed today because in fact, Fernando came very close to getting a slot on the front row, but we are well aware that one must accept the reality of the situation, without beating ourselves up about it. Felipe got the job done, extricating himself from a couple of complicated moments and getting the grid position that one could have expected. Now we must concentrate on tomorrow night's race, which will be extremely long and tough, both for the drivers and the cars. We will try and do our best, exploiting every opportunity that comes our way."
Pat Fry: "Reading the results sheet, one could say it reflects the current pecking order which has characterized this season, but it's natural that when the gaps are so close, at least among those battling for pole, there's a hint of disappointment. All the same, Fernando did a great job, getting the maximum out of the car we gave him. If we look at the gap to pole, we can say that, returning to a high downforce track, running the softest Pirelli compounds, we are back to the situation we had seen before, for example in Germany and Hungary, while in Spa and Monza we suffered a lot more. The start will be important tomorrow, an area where we have done rather well recently: we will therefore be trying to repeat that to make up some places. Then it will be important to see how the tires behave, which will be a decisive factor for the strategy. On this track, you cannot get anything wrong, because the slightest error and you can easily find yourself in the barriers. We can therefore expect all sorts of scenarios and we will have to be clever to exploit any opportunities that might present themselves."
Nico Rosberg (7th, 1:46.013): "I had a good fast lap in Q3 and we were able to take the most out of the car today so I'm quite satisfied. Starting in seventh place was the maximum that we could have achieved, although Massa was very close so it was definitely worth trying to catch him. Being on the clean side at the grid gives me a good position for the start, so I will try to make up positions there and score some good points. I think it will be an exciting race here with all the new things like DRS and the Pirelli tires."
Michael Schumacher (8th, No Time): "It was quite a tactical qualifying session, in which we chose not to run in Q3 to save new tires for the race. In theory, this should be worth some time over the race distance, so it was a calculated risk worth taking. As we all know from the past, a lot of incidents can happen during the Singapore Grand Prix, so I will certainly go for any opportunity which might occur. I will definitely keep my fingers crossed for Sebastian to clinch his second world title here tomorrow."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "It was a fairly straightforward qualifying session for us today and we got the maximum performance from the car. We were mindful of the need for good tires in the race, and with both drivers saving a set of supersofts, we are in reasonable shape for tomorrow. Michael decided not to set a lap time in Q3 for this reason; he could have challenged Nico but it was more sensible to save the tires. We have moved forward with the car, and the changes that we have made for this weekend look to be working well. We look forward to an interesting and challenging race tomorrow, and there should be a lot of opportunities."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Our team have worked very hard and constructively since yesterday when we struggled on this challenging high downforce track, and Nico and Michael achieved the best possible result today with our current package. We took a disciplined approach throughout qualifying in order to save tires for the race, and both Nico and Michael will have a fresh set of options available which should be valuable in the race. We only used prime tires in Q1 and, unlike the cars ahead, attempted only one outing in Q3. Our target for tomorrow is to improve our positions from today and to continue our trend from Spa and Monza."
Bruno Senna (15th, 1:48.662): "Today was a good effort by the team but unfortunately it was not enough. We made a good step forwards with the car this morning but it was not sufficient to get into Q3. I pushed very hard and made one mistake going over a curb that made my rear tires suffer a lot on the last seven corners - these curbs are really something we need to steer clear of! All in all, I can be 90% satisfied with my lap, as it would have been hard to take much more out of the car - maybe another position or two, but not more. My 15th position is near where we deserve to be. I'm now looking forward to the race, which is going to be long and tiring. The worst thing here is the humidity. It's all sweat, sweat, sweat - you never cool down. Looking ahead, we took a step forwards in terms of tire conservation, while the break wear does not seem to be a problem for us. It should be an interesting race tomorrow."
Vitaly Petrov (18th, 1:49.835): "It is always a challenge to drive in Singapore and we knew that the R31 would not necessarily be suited to the track's characteristics. We tried our best to cure our balance problems during the last free practice session but we have struggled with a lack traction all weekend. It's something that has a particularly big impact in Singapore and, going into qualifying, we knew it was going to be an uphill battle to qualify in the top 10. I pushed hard but made a mistake on my last fast lap in Q2 and lost four or five tenths. All was then over. It will be important to conserve our tires tomorrow, so at least I have the option of what I'll use for the start. The race is going to be physically very tough with 61 hot, sweaty laps - it will test the drivers to the very limit but I'm ready for it."
James Allison, Technical Director: "You talked yesterday about this being a trying weekend for the team - that assertion seems to have been validated today... Yes, although we approached Singapore buoyed by recent good performances at Monza and Spa, this weekend has brought us back down to earth with a bang. Both the car crews and the drivers worked diligently to try to eke as much out of the cars as they could, but four seconds per lap is, unfortunately, a yawning chasm that cannot be crossed with springs, roll bars and ride heights. Monaco, Hungary and now Singapore have shown clearly that we have a problem at circuits dominated by slow speed corners. From Spa, just two races ago and only a few rear wing settings different to Singapore, we have lost around 1.8sec/lap of competitiveness and around eight grid slots. Yes. Although some improvement was made to the nervousness experienced yesterday, the rear grip under braking and traction was still very poor. This is a challenging circuit; free practice and qualifying have been sprinkled with cars finishing their session in the barriers. It will only be harder still in the race as the surface will be liberally covered in marbles. Several cars were doing long runs in the third practice session which is often indicative of concerns over brake wear; this is not a concern we have so we may prosper a little there. However, if we are going to score points it will be by virtue of other people's misfortune and making to the flag unscathed."
Rubens Barrichello (12th, 1:48.082): "There are two ways of looking at that result. You can never be happy with 12th, but we pulled a good lap together and we should be satisfied by that. This is a great circuit, one I enjoy very much, but it's quite tricky. The curbs are a problem, as we saw with Kobayashi's incident, so you have to be careful. There was also a lot of traffic out there so I tried going out early to get some clear air. You can extend the capabilities of yourself and your car here so I am pleased with what we've done so far."
Pastor Maldonado (13th, 1:48.270): "It was hard to get the tires up to temperature today, especially the options, and that cost me time. At the end of Q2, we could have done with some more temperature in the front tires but it was ok. I did a strong lap to get P13 and I am looking forward to a good race tomorrow and getting into the points."
Sam Michael, Technical Director: "Rubens and Pastor have secured good positions to start the race from and from where we can definitely target a points-scoring result tomorrow. Getting everything right on the set-up makes a big difference on a street circuit like this while managing tire pressures throughout the session was also key. We didn't have any technical issues in qualifying so we can concentrate fully on the race tomorrow."
Adrian Sutil (9th, No Time):
Paul di Resta (10th, No Time):
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal:
Dominic Harlow, Chief Race Engineer:
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer:
Sergio Perez (11th, 1:47.618): "Overall I am pleased with our qualifying performance today, although it is a shame not to have made it into Q3, as it was very close. My lap in Q2 wasn't really perfect, the one in Q1 was actually better, as I felt more traction then. Nevertheless I'm very confident for tomorrow, as we normally have a strong race pace. The circuit is very technical and a driver can easily make a mistake, or with a good performance make a difference. I strongly believe I will finish in the points tomorrow."
Kamui Kobayashi (17th, No Time): "I ended up in the wall in Q2 and the accident was my fault. I feel very sorry for the team. I took too much curb in turn 10, the car jumped too high and this was the outcome. I saw a chance to fight for Q3, but it didn't work out. I was taken to the medical centre and was quite surprised at how carefully they checked me. However, physically I'm absolutely fine. I will do my utmost tomorrow to fight for points and give something back to the team."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Our car has got faster, so this is positive. Being a rookie, Sergio is driving here for the first time and has put in a very strong performance. Unfortunately it just wasn't enough to make it to Q3. Kamui's performance was good enough to make it into the top ten, but he failed to take his chance when he was riding the curbs too much and the car left the ground."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "Performance wise we are fairly happy, as we are where we expected to be. With a bit more luck maybe we would have got a top ten position, but still Sergio can do a good race from there. For Kamui that was unfortunate. Luckily he didn't hit concrete, but the angle he went in was not nice. However, now we need to look at the car and hope the chassis is not broken."
Sebastien Buemi (14th, 1:49.634): "In the end, I am happy with my performance as I feel I managed good laps in both Q1 and Q2. It's true we always lack a bit of pace in qualifying, but we have seen recently that does not rule out our chances of having a good race. So I hope that will be the case tomorrow, also taking into account we managed to save a set of new Supersoft tires. It will be an extremely long and tough night and it will be important to maintain concentration from start to finish. If we can do that, there is every reason to think we can deliver a good result."
Jaime Alguersuari (16th, 1:49.862): "This afternoon, I did what I could and tried my best, but while yesterday I was happy with the car, that was not the case today and I struggled a lot with the set-up, the main problem being a lack of grip. Therefore I feel what I achieved was the maximum I could do, with the car as it was. Tomorrow everything can change in what is usually the longest race of the year in very tough conditions for the cars and drivers."
Giorgio Ascanelli, Technical Director: "So far, we have had a couple of eventful days and although we got both cars into Q2, we are not in that good shape. Our grid positions owe something to Kobayashi's unfortunate accident and the problems of others. We have lost pace compared to Monza. Due to the lack of track time yesterday because of Seb's accident, for which I do not blame him and Jaime's technical problem, there are a couple of set-up solutions we were unable to exploit. Because of this, we had to concentrate more on race preparation this morning and less on qualifying. In addition, we ran a technical solution yesterday that Jaime found to his liking, but I took the decision we could not run it for the rest of the weekend, as we had a problem with it. Therefore today, he did not have the same level of confidence in the car. As for Sebastien, he has had a less complicated time, giving him greater confidence in the car and he drove well, putting together a good lap, so we can be happy with him for that. What a driver needs here more than anything is confidence, therefore, as we make up for the time lost, I do believe we can be in better shape for the race tomorrow, especially because of the fact we focused more on race set-up today."
Heikki Kovalainen (19th, 1:50.948): "I'm pretty pleased with that. I got held up on my second run but still managed to get within a second of the car ahead and I think I got close to getting the most out of the car I could. We definitely improved in FP3 and the wear rates weren't too bad so I think we're in good shape for tomorrow. It's a long race, and one where the safety car will probably play a role in how it all ends up, so the aim for Sunday is clear - make sure we get both cars home to the end and put ourselves in a position to take advantage of what happens ahead."
Jarno Trulli (20th, 1:51.012): "Honestly I've struggled with the car all day and even though I managed to get much closer to Heikki in qualifying I'm still not all that happy with where we are. The guys in the garage have been working really hard all weekend to fix one or two problems we've had, and I want to thank them for getting the car to the point where I could get that quick lap time out of it, but now it's about getting to the end of the race tomorrow in one piece."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "I am encouraged to see that the upgrade we have brought here has pulled us a little closer to the cars ahead but qualifying tonight was possibly not our smartest day in the office - we sent Heikki out just behind Liuzzi which definitely compromised his quickest lap, but on the positive side the changes we made overnight helped us to retrieve the couple of seconds we seemed to have lost yesterday. We know that we can mix it with a couple of the established teams on race pace so we need to make sure we have a good start, use whatever chances we can to overtake, something that is particularly difficult here, and get both cars home across the line."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A reasonable effort from us in qualifying today. Jarno was not happy with his car in either session today so we need to look at why that has changed since yesterday. With Heikki his first qualifying lap was good but on his second run he was compromised by the cars ahead when he would have definitely gone quicker, so it is encouraging to know there is still more outright pace in the car than we extracted today. The aim is the same as it always is for us on Sundays - have a strong performance, bring both cars home and do the best we can to push the cars in front."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "We worked very hard last night on improving the drivability of the engines and the braking stability and give ourselves the right choice of engine maps for qualifying. The results prove we made the right choices and as this track has such specific demands on the engine, in terms of traction and maximizing fuel economy, I think we have put ourselves in the right place to be able to push tomorrow. This is one of the hardest tracks on fuel economy in particular, so even though we are already good in that area, we have a specific map for the race tomorrow that I think will give the drivers a chance to push when they need to, and help to make sure they can both finish the race."
Daniel Ricciardo (23rd, 1:52.404): "It was quite a tough session because the plan was just to do one lap so we had two sets of tires and had to do what we could on one lap alone so there was no room for mistakes. I think it went well although with the second set I was expecting to improve a little bit more but I was probably overdriving as well. I touched the wall on the second last corner but it proves I was trying to get everything I could out of it. I'm happy to see the gap much closer to the nearest rivals but it is a bit disappointing not to be in front after getting so close. Nevertheless, it is a good step from yesterday. The main thing tonight is to eat, drink and sleep well in order to be in peak condition for the demands of tomorrow. I think tomorrow will be a long race and I'm pretty excited as it is going to be a real test for me."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (24th, 1:52.810): "We knew beforehand that it would be a difficult track for our us since our car doesn't suit it very well but, overall, it wasn't too bad. What we did was to work on the balance and the traction to understand the car better. However, we still need to figure out why we lost a lot of pace in the third sector where we lost a lot of grip in the rear end with the new set of tires. But we should be proud because we could've beaten our closest competitors if everything went fine. For me qualifying wasn't the most important thing after the penalty from Monza so I'm looking forward to tomorrow's race which will be very tough but I'm confident that we can battle with our nearest rivals after today's evidence."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "In the third practice session this morning we've continued to work on the race set-up and the gap to our nearest rivals has reduced considerably. Both Daniel and Tonio made the most of their first set of tires in the qualifying session and were ahead of the Virgins. However, with the second set, they were unable to stay ahead although Daniel was only one tenth off D'Ambrosio. Tomorrow's race will be long and tough for the drivers and cars alike and we need to be prepared. I hope both cars can finish the race so that we can achieve our eighth double finish of the season."
Timo Glock (21st, 1:52.154): "A difficult weekend so far, starting from the first outing. I haven't been completely happy with the rear of the car and we didn't manage to get it right yet, so qualifying was not perfect. I made a small mistake at the hairpin at Turn 13 but beyond that I think we had the most from the car. I love this race so I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Singapore can throw up all sorts of things so we just need to be ready."
Jerome d'Ambrosio (22nd, 1:52.363): "I'm a bit disappointed with today's qualifying really. The car is quite good but we just had an issue with the brake balance - it was much more rearwards somehow on my first run, so we had to change this for the second one. It still wasn't perfect and that made me lose a bit of confidence, especially here because you have only one lap - one chance. As always we will go into the race tomorrow looking to maximize what we have and to get both cars home in the best position possible."
John Booth, Team Principal: "What we learned from yesterday is that the degradation on both the Soft and Supersoft tires looks reasonably high and we therefore opted to save sets of the Soft tire for the race. Earlier, in FP3, we focused our efforts more on preparation for qualifying, with both drivers using only one set of each compound. They seemed to be suffering with identical issues and unfortunately we don't seem to have made much progress towards resolving them, so it's not surprising that in qualifying we were somewhat disappointed. The Singapore Grand Prix is normally fairly chaotic and we'll be looking to ensure that both cars stay as reliable as ever and with a good strategy I hope we can create some opportunities in the race."
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