Singapore Grand Prix 2012: McLaren’s Hamilton claims pole
Singapore Grand Prix 2012: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton sees off competition from Pastor Maldonado to take pole for Sunday's race
Lewis Hamilton secured his second and McLaren’s fourth successive pole after a stunning qualifying session at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The British driver set his quickest lap of one minute 46.362 seconds in Q3, although he clipped the wall while protecting his lead in the closing stages of the session.
In a surprise turn of events, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado qualified in second, trailing Hamilton by four tenths of a second.
And Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who had been fastest in all three practice sessions, failed to make his pace count, and the German starts from third on the grid.
“The guys have done a fantastic job all week,” said Hamilton. “We came here with some small things that have improved from the last race.
“We have high down force here so we weren’t sure where we would turn out against the others but obviously Fernando [Alonso] is incredibly fast through most of the sessions.
“I’m not sure what really happened at the end but nonetheless, I’m really very, very happy that I was able to pull that time out. It was a really great lap – very happy with it.
“Trying to find a gap is quite difficult, especially in Q1 and making sure your tyres and brakes are up to temperature without using them before you start your lap.
“My first few laps on the prime were quite poor and I felt very fortunate that I was able to get at least one lap on them so I didn’t have to go again”.
“It’s an incredibly tough circuit for tyre degradation as we have at pretty much every track, especially as it’s hot and humid here.
“I think everyone is going to struggle with that and I think we have to try and get away cleanly at the start and then try to stick to the strategy that we have planned and be prepared if it doesn’t work out.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button will begin from fourth alongside current drivers’ championship leader Fernando Alonso in fifth.
Despite making it into the top 10, Mercedes drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg chose to save their tyres and not set times.
Lotus’ Romain Grosjean, who had to serve a one race ban in Monza, suffered damage his rear wing in Q2 and he was forced to limp back to the pit – with little damage sustained, he returned to the track and will start from eighth.
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who is currently third in the drivers’ standings, qualified slower than Grosjean despite the Frenchman’s crash, starting from 12th.
The same luck did not hold for Bruno Senna, who also had a collision. For the third time this weekend, the Lotus driver hit the same piece of wall that caused Petrov’s accident in practice three, resulting in rear wing damage and he will start from 17th.
Singapore Grand Prix 2012: Qualifying Positions
1. Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1:46.362
2. Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 1:46.804
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:46.905
4. Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:46.939
5. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:47.216
6. Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:47.241
7. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:47.475
8. Romain Grosjean (Fra) Lotus 1:47.788
9. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes No Time
10. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes No Time
11. Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:47.975
12. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus 1:48.261
13. Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:48.344
14. Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber 1:48.505
15. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro-Rosso 1:48.774
16. Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Scuderia Toro-Rosso 1:48.849
17. Bruno Senna (Bra) Lotus No Time
18. Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) 1:49.933
19. Vitaly Petrov (Rus) 1:50.846
20. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham 1:51.137
21. Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia 1:51.370
22. Charles Pic (Fra) Marussia 1:51.762
23. Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT-F1 1:52.372
24. Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) HRT-F1 1:53.355