McLaren's Lewis Hamilton put in a sensation lap to win the pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix over the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel who can only manage third after being quickest in all three practice sessions.
Hamilton's lap of 1m46.362s was his third pole in the last four races.
Jenson Button was 4th in the second McLaren and points leader Fernando Alonso was 5th for Ferrari.
Vettel was sure he had the pace to win pole but could not figure out why he did not have the pace when he needed it.
“It’s hard to say what happened. I was happy until the end of Q2, but then in Q3 we weren’t able to go with the track and improve. In Q3 I couldn’t feel the grip so well and convert it to the lap time. The most important day is tomorrow and we have got pace in the car. We have been competitive this weekend and our target is to have a good race tomorrow; P3 is still a good place to start from."
Sebastian Vettel (3rd, 1:46.905): "It's hard to say what happened. I was happy until the end of Q2, but then in Q3 we weren't able to go with the track and improve. In Q3 I couldn't feel the grip so well and convert it to the lap time. The most important day is tomorrow and we have got pace in the car. We have been competitive this weekend and our target is to have a good race tomorrow; P3 is still a good place to start from."
Mark Webber (7th, 1:47.475): "We expected to be higher than that. It was a tricky session and on every run the car felt a bit different. We didn't have the rear-grip that we had in the other sessions; normally the super soft tires give us a certain balance, but it was difficult to chase it in that session. It's disappointing to be seventh, but it's a long race tomorrow and we have a chance to get something from it."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "After being competitive in FP1, 2 and 3, third and seventh is a strong result here, but perhaps not as strong as we would have hoped for. Our rhythm in Q3 seemed to be slightly interrupted, but it's still close and it's a long and hot race tomorrow. I'm sure we can race well from third and seventh on the grid."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "It was surprise today; we were expecting to be higher than P3 and P7 looking at our pace in the previous sessions. I think tomorrow will be long, but there are many corners, so we will try to regain our pace and see what we can do from there."
Lewis Hamilton (1st, 1:46.362): "I'm very happy with pole position. It's been a good weekend so far, but there are no points for today, and it's going to be a long, tough race, so I still need to be cautious. I hope we've done the work we need to do to put us in a strong position for tomorrow – the key will just be to stay out of trouble and look after the tires. Our guys at the factory have done an incredible job to bring our upgrades to the track this weekend. In previous years, we've often been playing catch-up on development throughout the season, but, this year, we're right there. I've always believed that if we could start the season strongly, we'd be able to pull ahead. We've been there or thereabouts all season, but now I think we're starting to see the real strength of my team pull through."
Jenson Button (4th, 1:46.939): "I found it a bit tough today; I didn't really feel comfortable with my car, the rear went away from me quite quickly, and I struggled to look after the tires over a lap. I hope the balance will be better in the race than it was in qualifying. The high degradation around here will make it a tricky race, but I think we'll be okay. It's going to be tough for everyone on Sunday evening, but you can overtake around here. Starting from fourth means you can hope for the best – a win – but the pace just wasn't quite there for me in qualifying. I hope it's better in the race."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Lewis has been in fantastic form all weekend, and today he showed a tremendous turn of speed to take a superb pole position here in Singapore this evening. It was Vodafone McLaren Mercedes' fourth consecutive pole position and the 153rd pole position in McLaren's history, and it was achieved one day shy of the 40th anniversary of our very first world championship grand prix pole position, which was notched up by the late Peter Revson at Mosport Park [Canada] on September 23rd 1972. Yesterday, too, he looked impressive, showing strong long-run pace in the free practice sessions. Jenson had a more challenging time of things this evening, but he showed his mettle and his class by posting fourth-best time despite not having been entirely comfortable here today. But he's a magnificent racing driver, as we all know, and he'll be looking to score heavily tomorrow. Lewis will be looking to win, of course – and, as long as he gets a clean start, there's no reason why he shouldn't do just that. We never under-estimate our opposition, and undoubtedly tomorrow's race will be a long and difficult one, but you'd have to say that we're in a pretty good position: firing on all cylinders, in fact!"
Fernando Alonso (5th, 1:47.216): "Today, pole position was absolutely out of our grasp: Hamilton was on another planet… We must settle for this fifth place but that doesn't mean we are not hoping to improve on it tomorrow: our target is the podium. The result pretty much matches what we expected after yesterday, given that right from the afternoon we were not particularly brilliant. The only surprise this evening was Maldonado and it was really unexpected to see him on the front row. Here, the performance difference between the two compounds is probably the highest of the whole championship; between one and a half and two seconds, which could be an important factor tomorrow also. It's true the Softs can last longer but it's also true that, with such a significant difference, the Supersofts could also be an interesting option. I expect a lot of pit stops, specifically because of the tire degradation. Honestly, before arriving in Singapore, I expected more, but we soon realized we would be tackling this Grand Prix on the defensive. The race will be very long, very hard physically and mentally, because you need to always concentrate to the maximum, with no margin for error: the slightest mistake can carry a high price on a track where the barriers are very close. Reliability will be very important and the number one priority will be getting to the finish in the best possible position."
Felipe Massa (13th, 1:48.344): "It was a very difficult qualifying. I really struggled to put together a good lap, suffering particularly in the final sector, where the rear tires were sliding and, as a result, were degrading. It's a problem I've had since yesterday and we did not manage to fix it. Let's hope we can do something for the race, otherwise it will be really hard. We must look carefully at the strategy, starting with which tire to use for the start of the race: there's a lot of difference in speed between the two compounds, but both seem to degrade significantly. The aim will be to finish the race in the points, which definitely won't be easy, but we'll give it our best shot. Not all the updates we brought here worked as we had expected and hoped for, which certainly hasn't helped. So we must understand why with a view to the rest of the season."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "We knew our performance level would not let us fight for the very top places on the grid, but nevertheless, Fernando's fifth place is a good starting point for tomorrow's race. Our driver got the most out of the car, which definitely does not come as a surprise. Sure, the gap to pole is significant, but in terms of distance in meters on the grid, it changes nothing if the gap is a hundredth or a whole second. Felipe struggled more than his team-mate, as was also the case yesterday, especially in terms of tire performance. Indeed, tires will be one of the crucial factors for tomorrow's race, given that we can expect a high level of degradation. Fernando is in with a chance of getting to the podium, while Felipe can aim for the top ten. It will be a very hard race for everyone: men and machines will be subjected to incredible stresses and anything can happen over the course of two hours. We will have to stay fully concentrated and make the most of every opportunity."
Pat Fry: "Honestly, it would have been difficult to expect more from this qualifying. Of all the updates we brought here, the only one we did not use was the rear wing, which still needs more development: that means we must improve still further the quality of our work if we want to meet our targets. Clearly, the circuit characteristics alone are not enough to explain the difference in performance between us and those who have been quickest in this part of the season, between Monza and Singapore: today we saw a driver-car combination that was absolutely out of reach. We managed to improve the handling of the F2012, but not enough to get Felipe into a position from which he could make the most of the potential he had: unfortunately for him, thirteenth place on the grid means he is in a particularly difficult position for tomorrow's race. A lot of factors will affect the final outcome of this weekend, starting with tire behavior over a long distance. Last year, we struggled a lot in this race and we tried to prepare for it differently this year, even if it's never easy to find the right compromise in set-up between the single lap and a long run. Other elements to consider will be reliability and strategy. This race is very tough on machinery and the high temperatures definitely don't help. Then we have the unknown factor of the Safety Car that has always featured in this Grand Prix. To sum up, there are a lot of variable to consider when aiming for a useful result for both championships."
Michael Schumacher (9th, 1:47.823): "I am reasonably pleased with our qualifying result, considering what we have seen this weekend. Of course, we could have tried to make up one or two positions, although this would have been very difficult. However we decided to give up this possibility in favor of the fact that we now have a fresh set and free choice of tires going into the race. We decided this strategy after the final practice session, and after seeing who made it into Q3, we went for it. Hopefully we can make the best of this choice tomorrow."
Nico Rosberg (10th, 1:47.943): "Our new updates are working reasonably well this weekend, although it will definitely take some more time to optimize the package. After not taking part in Q3, we will have more opportunities for the race tomorrow, and we can decide whether we want to start on the soft or supersoft tire. It should be an interesting race, so let's see what we can do."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "We've made good progress over the weekend with our new aerodynamic package which is encouraging. This weekend has been the first opportunity for Michael and Nico to try the upgrades, and it has taken a little while to get the set-up into a reasonable shape. Given the closeness of the second part of the grid, we made a strategic decision not to go out for a lap in Q3, and we're happy to have the choice of tires and new sets for the race tomorrow. "
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We improved our performance today compared to yesterday. Michael's time in Q2 was three-tenths behind P3 with Lewis and Sebastian almost a second quicker than the others. We decided to save tires for the race so Michael and Nico did not start a timed lap in Q3 and will both start from the fifth row tomorrow."
Romain Grosjean (8th, 1:47.788): "The result is not as good as we wanted, but this is a very hard track to get right and we've been struggling for ultimate grip throughout this weekend so far, so overall it was good to be in Q3. After Q1 and Q2 we felt positive but it didn't quite come together in the final session. I pushed a little bit too hard on my last lap ; it felt good in the car, but it wasn't good for my lap time and there was one moment where I lost most quite a lot of time. It was pretty close but I don't think I touched the wall ; I'll have to check to see if the Pirelli tire markings are still there !"
Kimi Raikkonen (12th, 1:48.261): "The car was much better overall today than it was yesterday. We were quick with the used tires but for some reason struggled for grip with the new ones in the second session and we were actually slightly slower. For sure P12 is not the position we wanted ; we don't seem to have the speed to challenge the leaders here but the car is definitely quicker than that. We'll see what we can do in the race."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "We'd found a lot of improvements in the car so we're disappointed with qualifying. We're disappointed with qualifying as we were hoping for a lot better than we achieved. We improved the car dramatically overnight and through today's practice session. Romain was two tenths slower in Q3 than he had been in Q2, but we could all see where most of that time was lost on his lap. Kimi was slower on a fresh set of tires than he was on a scrubbed set, but it's not immediately apparent why this was the case. He looked in excellent shape with his scrubbed run. We found a much better setup in our analysis overnight and we continued in that direction through FP3, steadily improving the car with a further step made going into qualifying. Both drivers were pretty happy with the car at the end of practice today. The super soft compound is a lot faster than the soft tire and it will need a big difference in degradation for the soft to be the preferred option in the race."
Paul di Resta (6th, 1:47.241): "I was very happy with the balance of the car yesterday, but struggled this afternoon during final practice and we seemed to lose our way. So we went back to basics and built up our speed again during qualifying and managed to deliver the laptime when it mattered during Q3 – in fact, it was my best lap of the weekend. So we're in a strong position for tomorrow and hopefully we can come away with some big points. We looked quite competitive yesterday during long runs so we will focus on the strategy tonight and make sure we make the right calls tomorrow with the tires."
Nico Hulkenberg (11th, 1:47.975): "We had a car capable of reaching Q3 today, so I feel disappointed to miss out on the top ten. I just didn't find a good rhythm in Q2 and my last lap was not good enough – I made a few small errors which cost me time and a place in Q3. Now I need to focus on making the most of tomorrow and doing what we can with the strategy. Starting eleventh means I get a free choice on tires and we've seen already that tire performance and degradation will be a big factor in the race. I need to get a clean start, get through the opening lap and see what I can do."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "Having shown strong pace during qualifying in Monza, it's especially satisfying to see the car also working well here in Singapore – a circuit with completely different characteristics. The speed has been in the car right from the start of free practice and we delivered when it mattered in qualifying. Paul's sixth place puts us where we need to be to score points and maybe even challenge for a podium. Nico, too, has been very quick here, but he didn't get a clean lap together in Q2. He's on the cusp of the top ten and I'm sure he will fight hard to move forward tomorrow."
Sergio Perez (14th, 1:48.505): "We have obviously had a difficult weekend here in Singapore. The main issue is that for some reason we didn't get our new package to work. This comes as a surprise because so far all the development steps have paid off. There is a lot of downforce missing. My last lap in Q2 was clear and I think I got the most out of it. We have tried a lot to improve the car's set-up and everything else, but it didn't work out."
Kamui Kobayashi (18th, 1:49.933): "We have tried everything but could not get rid of the huge oversteer. 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. The problem I have here reminds me somehow of the one I had in Budapest, where I also struggled with the car. Given how the car is, 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. Sometimes a safety car deployment or whatsoever can play into your hands and I still hope for the team that we can score some points tomorrow."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "This is obviously not the result we expected; it's really disappointing. However, this result is all that we could achieve today. But the race is tomorrow, and this season has shown several times that we are able to score strong results even when starting from lower positions."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "After the difficulties we had yesterday, today in free practice we had a real testing session trying to find a fix for this lack of performance we are experiencing. The situation somewhat improved, but not enough to do better than we did in qualifying. We had a couple of incidents this morning, but that was not the major problem today. The qualifying told the truth where we stand. On the positive side we were able to identify where the problem comes from. Nevertheless we cannot solve it here. Now we have to concentrate on the race for which we have some new sets of tires left. Normally our race pace is better than the qualifying speed, but for sure it will not be easy."
Daniel Ricciardo (15th, 1:48.774): "I was actually happier with my best lap in Q1 than I was with my best effort in Q2, therefore I had been hoping to be a little bit further up the grid, maybe jumping both the Saubers, but this position is not too bad and overall, I'd say we're making progress. Certainly, thanks to the work we did overnight, the car was better in FP3 than it was yesterday, so I hope we can have another good race tomorrow, on a track where we know anything can happen."
Jean-Eric Vergne (16th, 1:48.849): "For my first time in Singapore, I feel I can be satisfied with the way qualifying went this evening. Ever since Monza, I have had to deal with some neck pain and I managed that situation well, so that I could deal with all the curbs and bumps at this track. Finishing within a tenth of my team-mate, who has raced here before is another reason for me to be pleased with my performance, when I consider I was over a second slower than him yesterday. It's a long race tomorrow, during which I expect to improve even more and I really hope we can make the most of any opportunity that comes our way."
James Key, Technical Director: "After Friday, we had to refine the direction we were working in, especially for the Option tire in Daniel's case, while Jev was struggling a bit with braking stability. It's his first time at this track and he had a huge amount to learn, considering how long and technical it is. Then overnight, both drivers and their engineers managed to make a good step forward, particularly for Jean-Eric, so that the car seemed reasonably well balanced in FP3. In Qualifying, we felt we could have been one place further up, even if Q3 was unlikely. But we are only a few tenths off those ahead of us and as this is typically an eventful race, we will be looking to capitalize on our race performance. Most important, both drivers have kept it clean all weekend, so well done to both of them and especially to Jean-Eric for learning it so quickly."
Pastor Maldonado (2nd, 1:46.804): "We've been working really hard as at the beginning of the weekend we were struggling for pace. We continued improving throughout qualifying and we found a good balance in the car. I then had to put together a good lap in Q3 and I knew we could be right up at the front. I'm really looking forward to the race as we've shown consistently good pace on our longer runs throughout practice. We have all the tools to be competitive tomorrow, so it should be a good race for us."
Bruno Senna (17th, 1:49.809): "It wasn't ideal today. I was pushing very hard to get a good lap but I pushed a little over the edge. This place isn't very forgiving so we broke the rear suspension. Unfortunately that brought an early end to qualifying but we now we need to focus on tomorrow. We have extra sets of new tires now which I think everyone is going to need. We have a good car and it's a long race. It isn't easy to overtake here but we've raced from the back before. I'm going to need to push really hard to get some points out the race tomorrow."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "Pastor's superb front row qualifying result brings a very welcome boost to the whole team and places Pastor in a strong position to fight for a podium position tomorrow. After safely making it through the first qualifying session unfortunately Bruno hit the wall in the second session damaging his rear suspension leaving him out of position in 17th for tomorrow's race."
Vitaly Petrov (19th, 1:50.846): "I'm really happy with how quali went today. It's my Father's birthday and the performance is my present for him. He told me this morning "don't push too hard" and then I went and crashed the car in P3! The boys did a fantastic job in the garage to repair the car and it was actually all ready 15 minutes before Q1, so thank you very much to them for putting in such a great effort."
Heikki Kovalainen (20th, 1:51.137): "Honestly it's been a tough weekend for me so far and today's performance wasn't really any better. I've been struggling to find a decent balance in every session and that definitely affected me today. Despite that this is the type of race where anything can happen so I hope we can have a better Sunday and leave here on a positive note."
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: "Over the last couple of races we deliberately stopped sending out press releases because, truthfully, we did not believe our performance was giving us anything worth reporting. However, today's qualifying performance has begun to give me confidence that we are back on the path to the promised land of the midfield and we have another six races to continue to extract the pace that is in the upgrades we have put on the car. We put a lot of effort, probably too much, into the major package we introduced with the new exhaust system, taking up a lot of resource and costing us time that could have been better spent on the more conventional aerodynamic upgrades that will put us where we want to be. Now we are working twice as hard on all the key areas of performance on the car and the last piece of the jigsaw is to find more downforce. All the other key areas of the car are working well and, after a nervous few days, I am looking forward to the remaining races of the season. I also want to address the noise that has arisen around Heikki. It is quite possible that what has been going on over the last couple of days has not helped him on track but I am pleased to say that discussions are going very well and we are aiming to make positive statements about that in the next few weeks. On the other side of the garage I think Vitaly's performance today might just be the making of him as a Caterham driver. He drove outstandingly well today and I have never heard him speak so positively over the radio. He enjoyed his drive and his crew did a brilliant job to fix his car, and give him the platform to show what he can do. Now we want to make sure we keep improving the cars we give both him and Heikki and let them enjoy themselves out on track."
Mark Smith, Technical Director: "First I want to thank the team for the excellent work they did between FP3 and qualifying to repair Vitaly's car, and give him what he needed to put in the performance he did in Q1. It is good to see that we have started to unlock the potential of the new parts we have brought here and the aim is to make sure we keep progressing. We have had a difficult last couple of races but everyone has redoubled their efforts and the lap times we saw in qualifying are the first signs that we are heading in the right direction."
Narain Karthikeyan (23rd, 1:52.372): "I'm happy because in qualifying I completed an almost perfect lap. I'm pushing very hard and I think that right now I'm driving very well. I'm very comfortable within the team, they help me a lot and make me feel at home, and when the atmosphere is that good it's easy to perform well. I've done two good consecutive qualifying sessions and I hope to keep that momentum. Tomorrow's race will be tough physically and mentally but we will fight to achieve the best possible result."
Pedro de la Rosa (24th, 1:53.355): "Overall my sensations are positive because the car has improved but we didn't complete a good qualifying session. We were using a new set of tires and they were blocking a lot so we were unable to complete a clean lap. Although I already knew that tomorrow I would be starting last because of the penalty, I tried to complete a quick lap, but it wasn't to be. I take with me the fact that the car has improved quite a bit and that is important ahead of tomorrow because it will be a tough race. It will be tough for everyone but we have to race intelligently to not overwork the brakes and manage the tires well. As always, we will give it everything to do the best we can."
Toni Cuquerella, Technical Director: "Yesterday we tested the new components and, although this isn't the ideal circuit to draw conclusions, after analyzing the data we gathered today we opted for the adjustments that could work best for us. And, effectively, we saw an important improvement with respect to the high downforce circuits. The drivers also had good sensations so the overall result was positive. Narain completed a good qualifying session, in the same line as his last Grands Prix where he has been more secure and consistent. It's a shame that Pedro was unable to complete a clean lap this time. Tomorrow will be a tough race because, in terms of time, it is the longest in the season. But it will also be tough because of the high temperatures that the engine and the brakes reach, but also because of the thermal degradation of the rear tires. It all leads to a two or three-stop strategy."
Timo Glock (21st, 1:51.370): "A disappointing start to the day in FP3 and then in terms of the knock-on effect this had on qualifying. To not have a proper run this morning cost us quite a bit, which is a shame as I had a good feeling in the car but not the confidence in terms of the tires. Obviously the tires are pretty critical here, especially the Supersofts – getting them to warm up and in the right window for the flying lap. It was a bit of a struggle with the brakes also, which were not great. We had a good start yesterday and into the weekend, and we were actually looking quite strong. At least we were only a couple of tenths behind in qualifying and now we need to try and race Caterham hard tomorrow. In general the team did a good job with the challenges we faced and also the heat and humidity, which is a struggle. I hope we can do something better for them tomorrow."
Charles Pic (22nd, 1:51.762): "Overall not a bad qualifying after a positive FP3 earlier today. I lost some time in sector 3 due to traffic but I am reasonably happy apart from that. Although I feel I have adjusted quite well to a track that is difficult to learn, running here for the first time, there is always room for improvement as I progress through the weekend to find a better lap. I hope there is more to come tomorrow and we can continue with our current strong performances in the races. With regard to the penalty imposed by the FIA after FP3, I have seen the information and I would like to say that I completely agree with it. It was a mistake on my part and I will use the experience wisely."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Today has been less straightforward for us and we've had to contend with a couple of challenges, which did not set us up well for qualifying. Overall though we are very pleased with the improvements we have seen with the car generally and, specifically, some small tweaks that we've made aerodynamically today, which have helped us further. With Timo we are left wondering how much better he may have performed in qualifying with the benefit of the extra track time that he lost in FP3. Nonetheless, I am confident that the pace he has shown at all other times throughout the weekend, coupled with his enthusiasm for this track, means that he should be able to have a cracking race tomorrow. Charles has done well to learn what is a difficult circuit for any driver and his focus for tomorrow will be to race as hard as he can to make as much progress as possible, bearing in mind the penalty incurred during FP3, to be added at the end of the race. Naturally he is very disappointed with himself over that mistake."
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1m46.905s||+0.543s|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1m47.241s||+0.879s|
|7.||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1m47.475s||+1.113s|
|9.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||no time||–|
|10.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||no time||–|
|11.||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1m47.975s||+1.310s|
|15.||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1m48.774s||+2.109s|
|16.||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1m48.849s||+2.184s|
|17.||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||no time||–|
|24.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1m53.355s||+5.667s|