Lewis Hamilton grabs Singapore pole
Lewis Hamilton has stormed to McLaren’s fourth consecutive pole position ahead of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix in a qualifying session that saw Pastor Maldonado spring a major surprise.
Hamilton was almost half a second quicker than any of his rivals in Q3, with the Williams driver proving the Briton’s closest challenger.
Third place on the grid went to defending two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel with the second McLaren of Jenson Button in fourth.
“With high downforce here we were not sure where we would turn out against the others,” said Hamilton.
“Nonetheless I was really happy to pull that time out with a great lap.”
Maldonado was delighted with his qualifying performance.
“During practice we were a bit lost with the set-up,” said Maldonado.
“We improved the car for qualifying and it was more to my style. We got a really good balance in Q2 and then into Q3.
“I’m really looking forward to the race as we have a very consistent car and should be strong.”
Points leader Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) was fifth quickest ahead of the Force India of Paul Di Resta. Mark Webber was seventh, but could face a grid penalty after impeding Timo Glock in the Murrusia in Q1.
After missing the Italian Grand Prix through suspension Romain Grosjean will start his Lotus from eighth. Both Mercedes entries of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg stayed in the garage for Q3 in a move to conserve rubber as all other drivers set their times on the super soft Pirelli tyres.
Q2 claimed some big names with Kimmi Raikkonen set to start from 12th, ahead of Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez. Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo (15th) once again beat Toro Rosso team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne by one place.
With Maldonado on the front row, his team-mate Bruno Senna left his mark on the Singapore circuit in a different way hitting the wall twice. The second encounter badly damaging the right-rear suspension of the Williams.
The major surprise in not making it through Q1 was Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, who will start 18th after complaining of an oversteer inbalance.
With most pundits predicting a three-stopper in what is one of the longest races of the year, tyre strategies will be crucial.
QUALIFYING: Singapore Grand Prix
|3||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1m46.905s||+0.543|
|6||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1m47.241s||+0.879|
|7||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1m47.475s||+1.113|
|9||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||No Time Q3|
|10||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||No Time Q3|
|11||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1m47.975s||+1.310|
|15||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1m48.774s||+2.109|
|16||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1m48.849s||+2.184|
|17||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||No Time Q2|
|24||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1m53.355s||+5.667|
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Malaysian Grand Prix Race Guide