Singapore Grand Prix 2011: Red Bull’s Vettel takes pole
Defending world champion scores his 11th pole of 2011 ahead of team-mate Webber and McLaren's Button
Sebastian Vettel moved closer to retaining his world championship title as he took his 11th pole position of the season with a time of 1m44.381s in qualifying for Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Vettel’s Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber joined him on the front row, as he improved on his first run to knock McLaren’s Jenson Button down to third.
Lewis Hamilton, who was second for McLaren after the first round of lap times, finished fourth quickest, just 0.005 seconds slower than Button after a refuelling problem prevented him from running again.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso struggled with his car’s handling as he took fifth on the grid – one second quicker than team-mate Felipe Massa, as the top six places were again locked out by the “big three”.
Nico Rosberg finished ahead of Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher, who did not set a time, while Force India opted to keep Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta in the garage during Q3 to save tyres for the race.
Vettel again dominated qualifying, comfortably topping the timesheets in both Q1 and Q2 before blowing his opponents away with his first flying lap in Q3.
Up on Webber by 0.4 seconds, the imperious German even had the luxury of aborting his final run after losing time in the middle sector.
“I think the track ramped up a little bit by the end, so it was possible to go faster, but all in all it was a perfect session and I’m very happy, especially around here,” Vettel said afterwards.
“It’s a very fun track and a big challenge. It’s difficult with so many corners and it’s a long lap to get everything together, but we kept our heads cool and did it today. It’s great we have both cars on the front row, but let’s see tomorrow, it’s a very, very long race.”
Renault had a mixed afternoon as both drivers struggled to get through Q1, with Vitaly Petrov missing out as team-mate Bruno Senna scraped through at the death with an impressive time, one second quicker than Petrov.
However, the Brazilian was unable to challenge in Q2, and will start 15th on the grid.
Force India denied Sauber’s Sergio PÃ©rez a return to Q3 as Sutil and di Resta sneaked through, leaving the Mexican 11th ahead of Williams duo Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado.
Toro Rosso were 14th quickest through SÃ©bastien Buemi, who was 0.028 seconds quicker than Senna, and 1.2 seconds quicker than team-mate Jaime Alguersuari, who will start 16th after Kamui Kobayashi crashed his Sauber when flying through the Turn 10 chicane, causing a red flag to allow marshals to clear away his stranded car.
At the back of the grid, Team Lotus’ Heikki Kovalainen showed early promise as he diced with Petrov and Buemi – but the Finn failed to improve on his last lap and will start 18th as the best of the so-called “˜new teams’.
Hispania also showed a bit of pace as they took Q3 to the Virgin Racing drivers but both Timo Glock and JÃ©rÃ´me d’Ambrosio improved to dump Daniel Ricciardo and Tonio Liuzzi to the last row.
Liuzzi’s five-place grid penalty for causing the first corner mayhem in Monza two weeks ago became irrelevant, with the Italian finishing 0.4s behind his rookie team-mate.
Singapore Grand Prix 2011 – Starting grid
1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1min 44.381secs
2 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:44.732
3 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:44.804
4 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:44.809
5 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:44.874
6 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:45.800
7 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:46.013
8 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP No Time
9 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India No Time
10 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India No Time
11 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari 1:47.616
12 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams 1:48.082
13 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:48.270
14 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:48.634
15 Bruno Senna (Bra) Renault 1:48.662
16 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:49.862
17 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari No Time
18 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:49.835
19 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 1:50.948
20 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 1:51.012
21 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing 1:52.154
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing 1:52.363
23 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-F1 1:52.404
24 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) HRT-F1 1:52.810
Vitantonio Liuzzi received a five-place grid penalty after an incident in the Italian Grand Prix, however as he qualified in 24th place he remains there.