Vettel Sets up Title Charge with Pole Position in Singapore


Singapore Qualifying Top Three: (Left to Right) Mark Webber (2nd); Sebastian Vettel (Pole); Jenson Button (3rd) - Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Singapore Qualifying Top Three: (Left to Right) Mark Webber (2nd); Sebastian Vettel (Pole); Jenson Button (3rd) - Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

 

Sebastian Vettel secured his eleventh pole position of the season in Singapore today – an ideal start to a weekend where he could wrap up his second drivers' championship.

Mark Webber will start alongside his team-mate on another all-Red Bull front row. McLaren make up the second row with Jenson Button in third and Lewis Hamilton in fourth.

Fernando Alonso, a two-time winner at this circuit, could qualify only fifth. Felipe Massa was sixth and Nico Rosberg was seventh.

Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta did not set a lap time during Q3, and will line-up eighth, ninth and tenth on the Singapore grid.

The spread of lap times between the fastest and slowest cars in Singapore this weekend meant that the top teams – Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes – could get by in Q1 without using the faster super-soft Pirelli tyre. Sebastian Vettel, using only the soft tyre, was the quickest driver at this early stage with a time of 1:46.397.

Bruno Senna put in a good lap at the end of Q1, knocking Renault team-mate Vitaly Petrov down into eighteenth place and out of the session. Heikki Kovalainen was the best of the new teams, who will line up two-by-two on the grid tomorrow. Vitantonio Liuzzi qualified twenty-fourth and last, rendering the five-place grid penalty given to the Italian in Monza completely pointless.

The drivers from the top teams all switched to the super-soft tyre for the beginning of Q2. All, that is, except Lewis Hamilton, who decided to do his first run on the slower soft tyre. Those out early in this stage of qualifying managed to complete one lap before Kamui Kobayashi brought the session to a halt. The Sauber driver had become airborne over the kerbs of the chicane, and buried his car into the wall.

Vettel had just got his flying lap finished before the red flags came out, and his time of 1:44.931 went unbeaten throughout Q2. In fact, it was over half a second better than anyone else could manage.

The session resumed with 9 minutes and 41 seconds remaining but the drama continued as the clock ticked down towards the end of Q2. Hamilton picked up a right-rear puncture while running eighth and was forced to pit, unable to push himself any higher up the grid. Luckily for the Brit, nobody could challenge his time, and he made it through into the top-ten shoot-out.

Sergio Perez almost managed to sneak through into Q3, but was knocked out right at the end of Paul di Resta, who joined his team-mate in the final part of qualifying.

Perez, Rubens Barrichello, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastien Buemi, Bruno Senna, Jaime Alguersuari and, of course Kobayashi, all dropped out.

The cars were queuing at the end of the pit lane for the start of Q3, with Jenson Button heading the line of cars. There was jostling for position between Felipe Massa and Hamilton on the out-lap, with the McLaren driver eager to get ahead of the Ferrari man.

Button was the first across the line with a time of 1:44.928. Alonso was next to set a time, but could manage a 1:45.518. Hamilton then beat them both with a 1:44.809 but Vettel then went and trounced the lot of them with a time of 1:44.381.

These pole-contenders then headed straight back to the pits for another set of super-soft tyres, although, Hamilton chose not to go out for a second lap, instead choosing to save their remaining set of super-soft tyres to counteract the set lost from the puncture in Q2.

Mark Webber went up to second on the grid with his second lap, and Button went up to third. With Hamilton still in the garage and forced to settle for fourth, Vettel had no need to complete his second run, and returned to the garage with another pole position in the bag.

 

Singapore Grand Prix 2011: Qualifying Result

Pos No Driver Team Time Laps
1 1 Germany Sebastian Vettel Austria Red Bull 1:44.381 12 Report
2 2 Australia Mark Webber Austria Red Bull 1:44.732 14 Report
3 4 United Kingdom Jenson Button United Kingdom McLaren 1:44.804 14 Report
4 3 United Kingdom Lewis Hamilton United Kingdom McLaren 1:44.809 12 Report
5 5 Spain Fernando Alonso Italy Ferrari 1:44.874 13 Report
6 6 Brazil Felipe Massa Italy Ferrari 1:45.800 14 Report
7 8 GermanyNico Rosberg Germany Mercedes 1:46.013 11 Report
8 7 GermanyMichael Schumacher Germany Mercedes No Q3 Time 11 Report
9 14 GermanyAdrian Sutil India Force India No Q3 Time 14 Report
10 15 United Kingdom Paul di Resta India Force India No Q3 Time 14 Report
   
11 17 Mexico Sergio Perez Switzerland Sauber 1:47.616 13 Report
12 11 Brazil Rubens Barrichello United Kingdom Williams 1:48.082 14 Report
13 12 Venezuela Pastor Maldonado United Kingdom Williams 1:48.270 16 Report
14 18 Switzerland Sebastien Buemi Italy Toro Rosso 1:48.634 11 Report
15 9 Brazil Bruno Senna United Kingdom Renault 1:48.662 13
16 19 Spain Jaime Algerusuari Italy Toro Rosso 1:49.862 10 Report
17 16 Japan Kamui Kobayashi Switzerland Sauber No Q2 Time 8 Report
   
18 10 Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov United Kingdom Renault 1:48.054 8
19 20 Finland Heikki Kovalainen United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:49.835 6 Report
20 21 Italy Jarno Trulli United Kingdom Team Lotus 1:50.948 6 Report
21 24 Germany Timo Glock United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:51.012 7
22 25 Belgium Jerome D'Ambrosio United Kingdom Virgin Racing 1:52.154 6
23 22 Australia Daniel Ricciardo Spain HRT 1:52.363 6 Report
24 23 Italy Vitantonio Liuzzi Spain HRT 1:52.404 6 Report
    107% qualifying time 1:52.810