Lewis Hamilton romped to a dominant pole position in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix. The 2008 race winner claimed his fifth pole position of the year but this might be the most important yet.
Overtaking is exceptionally difficult in Singapore and regardless of the tyre degradation, which Pastor Maldonado said would allow drivers to overtake, the advantage of starting from the front has consistently proved crucial in previous races in Singapore.
Hamilton’s lap was half a second quicker than anyone else could manage and with Maldonado starting alongside him on the front row, and Fernando Alonso starting fifth, there is potential for this weekend’s race to play a major role in bringing Hamilton closer to Alonso in the championship. The McLaren driver is currently 37 points adrift.
Maldonado’s lap was superb and showed once again the rough diamond that Williams has on its hands. The Venezuelan has been superb throughout proceedings here in South East Asia and while his consistency and ability to keep himself out of trouble during races has been an issue all year this looks like providing him with another chance to shine.
The Spanish Grand Prix winner has looked at home in Singapore all weekend and has consistently been able to place the car wherever he wanted. His advantage of not having to hustle the car throughout the lap could be crucial in allowing him to conserve his tyres. If he can do that he will be very dangerous in tomorrow’s race.
Sebastian Vettel topped the timing sheets throughout the weekend….until it mattered in qualifying.
The German will start third after narrowly beating Jenson Button after a nail biting conclusion to Q3.
It was far from nail biting in the Mercedes garage with both Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg both opting to save a set of tyres from tomorrow’s race rather than try and qualify further up the grid. The duo will round out the top ten.
Paul di Resta will start sixth after a hugely impressive qualifying effort. The Scotsman was outpaced by his teammate Nico Hulkenberg in practice this morning but when it counted he upped his game.
Starting on the third row will give Force India a chance of having a strong race tomorrow and with Williams, their chief rivals for seventh in the constructors’ championship, looking capable of claiming a large points haul it will be imperative that di Resta finishes inside the top six.
Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean will make up the fourth row with the Frenchman lucky to qualify so far up the field having had a hefty clash with a barrier. Grosjean was fastest in Q1. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen was eliminated from the top ten cutoff.
Sergio Perez, the star of the previous GP in Monza, struggled to 14th on the grid on a day when Sauber had one of their worst showings of the season. Kamui Kobayashi failed to even make it out of Q1.
The Swiss team however is consistently able to take advantage of a car that doesn’t stress its tyres as much as rivals and are able to make less pitstops. If they are to come home with points from Singapore it will be crucial that this holds true once again.