Lewis Hamilton has created the first real upset of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, by claiming pole position in today’s action-packed qualifying session. The favourite for top spot, Sebastian Vettel, managed the third-fastest time, despite being the quickest driver in each of the practice sessions beforehand.
The second upset of the weekend went to F1 2012’s ‘Mr Mercurial’, none other that Pastor Maldonado. The Venezuelan delivered an incredible effort in the final phase of qualifying to claim his second career front-row start. With Hamilton and Maldonado having come to grief on more than one occasion, it’s all set for another exciting drag race off the line in Sunday’s race.
Jenson Button managed to qualify fourth-fastest in the sister McLaren, relegating championship leader Fernando Alonso to fifth-fastest, but on the more advantageous ‘clean’ side of the grid.
Paul di Resta cemented Force India’s excellent practice pace with the sixth-fastest time – team-mate Nico Hulkenberg just missed out on a Q3 berth – and the Scot will start ahead of Mark Webber and Romain Grosjean, who were the slowest runners to post a time in Q3.
Neither Mercedes opted to stake a claim for a lap-time after making the Q3 cut, and Michael Schumacher will start from ninth place, one ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The strong performances from Maldonado and di Resta meant that the more favoured Q3 candidates – such as Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa – were demoted at the second hurdle, after failing to better the 1:47.943 needed to get into the final phase of qualifying.
Bruno Senna was another driver who failed to capitalise on his car’s overall pace. The Brazilian suffered his third crash in as many sessions – this time he stuffed his Williams’ nose into the wall at the penultimate corner and took no further part in Q2.
Starting ahead of the under-pressure Brazilian will be Sergio Perez in fourteenth, followed by the Toso Rosso runners of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, who opted for a late run on the super-soft tyres in Q1 in order to book themselves a spot in Q2.
Their late runs came at the expense of Kamui Kobayashi, who was this weekend’s unlucky driver to join the usual suspects from Caterham, Marussia and HRT in the Q1 ‘early bath’.
The Swiss team will be hoping that its Constructors’ Championship points advantage over Force India isn’t eaten into too much after Sunday’s race.
In other news, it was announced that Marussia F1 rookie Charles Pic would be hit with a twenty-second time penalty after the race after he was found guilty of failing to acknowledge the red flags that were brought out in final practice when Vitaly Petrov crashed out of the session. The Frenchman will also have to serve a day’s community service in support of the FIA’s ‘Make Roads Safer’ campaign, as was noted in the official decision handed down by the event stewards.
2012 Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:46.362|
|2.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams Renault FW34||1:46.804||+ 0.442|
|3.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:46.905||+ 0.543|
|4.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-27||1:46.939||+ 0.577|
|5.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:47.216||+ 0.854|
|6.||Paul di Resta||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:47.241||+ 0.879|
|7.||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing Renault RB8||1:47.475||+ 1.113|
|8.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:47.788||+ 1.426|
|9.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||no time|
|10.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG F1 W03||no time|
|Q2 Cut-Off – 1:47.943||Time||Gap|
|11.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes VJM05||1:47.975||+ 0.032|
|12.||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus F1 Renault E20||1:48.261||+ 0.318|
|13.||Felipe Massa||Scuderia Ferrari F2012||1:48.344||+ 0.401|
|14.||Sergio Pérez||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:48.505||+ 0.562|
|15.||Daniel Ricciardo||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:48.774||+ 0.831|
|16.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7||1:48.849||+ 0.906|
|17.||Bruno Senna||Williams Renault FW34||no time|
|Q1 Cut-Off – 1:49.809||Time||Gap|
|18.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber Ferrari C31||1:49.933||+ 0.124|
|19.||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham Renault CT01||1:50.846||+ 1.037|
|20.||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham Renault CT01||1:51.137||+ 1.328|
|21.||Timo Glock||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:51.370||+ 1.561|
|22.||Charles Pic*||Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01||1:51.762||+ 1.953|
|23.||Narain Karthikeyan||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:52.372||+ 2.563|
|24.||Pedro de la Rosa||HRTF1 Cosworth F112||1:53.355||+ 3.546|
* Denotes twenty-second time penalty will be applied to finishing result – in addition to one day’s FIA community service – for failing to ignore red flag during Saturday’s final practice session