Rosberg claims pole in Singapore

The sun may have gone down in Singapore but the heat and humidity didn’t. Formula 1’s night race in Singapore is a visual feast for the eyes but it’s no easy task for teams and drivers. Qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix is always a difficult task given the nature of the circuit, the challenge of finding a rhythm and the sheer length of the lap peppered with 23 turns.

The evening started out with some predictive results in Q1. The Red Bulls were always tipped to do well and running at the sharp end of the session was no surprise. What may have been a surprise was an issue with Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari rendering his session over and the retirement exacerbated by the “what could have been” performance of his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen.

The first session was mainly running on the Ultra-Soft Pirelli tires which seemed durable and relatively grippy if the drivers protected them initially. Too aggressive to start with and you would be fighting the tires the rest of the way.

Red Bull chose to set Q2 times on the Super-Soft Pirellis and while they may have been conceding some pace in Q2, the plan may be to set themselves up for a strong, long first stint on Sunday. What became clear is that Mercedes may not feel confident with the Super-Soft tire and chose not to fit the car with the red-banded tire in Q2 meaning they’ll start on the Ultra-Soft tire and perhaps look to the Soft Pirelli giving the Super-Soft a miss during the race.

Hass F1’s Romain Grosjean put his car in the wall at the waning moments of Q2 and while that happened, McLaren’s Jenson Button parked his car on track as well.

The session was delayed for 10 minutes while track workers corrected the errant TecPro barriers.

As the session got started, the teams secured their free sets of Ultra-Soft Pirelli’s and started for pole. The talking points were centered on any potential vulnerability for Mercedes via Red Bull’s sheer pace on the city streets. Initial runs in Q3, Mercedes and Ferrari outpaced the Red Bulls with six minutes to go. Red Bull’s radio conversation seemed to indicate that the initial lap was compromised so they couldn’t run their strategy.

The final laps for pole started with just three minutes left and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was leading the order with Kimi Raikkonen was the last one on track.

Ultimately Nico Rosberg’s first lap was strong enough to secure pole while his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, struggled on his final lap and ended up down the order in third place behind the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo who will be on a different tire strategy than Lewis so a good start will be critical for the champ.

The Toro Rosso duo of Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat put on a terrific show besting the Force India cars and Williams F1. The session also saw McLaren’s Fernando Alonso in ninth.

Two weeks ago, the press suggested Hamilton “humiliated” Rosberg with pole position by over half a second. Today, the roles were reversed, perhaps the humiliation didn’t last long.

Singapore Grand Prix Qualifying Results:

1Nico RosbergMercedes1m42.584s
2Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/Renault1m43.115s0.531s
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m43.288s0.704s
4Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault1m43.328s0.744s
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1m43.540s0.956s
6Carlos SainzToro Rosso/Ferrari1m44.197s1.613s
7Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Ferrari1m44.469s1.885s
8Nico HulkenbergForce India/Mercedes1m44.479s1.895s
9Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/Honda1m44.553s1.969s
10Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1m44.582s1.998s
11Valtteri BottasWilliams/Mercedes1m44.740s
12Felipe MassaWilliams/Mercedes1m44.991s
13Jenson ButtonMcLaren/Honda1m45.144s
14Esteban GutierrezHaas/Ferrari1m45.593s
15Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari1m45.723s
16Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1m47.827s
17Kevin MagnussenRenault1m46.825s
18Felipe NasrSauber/Ferrari1m46.860s
19Jolyon PalmerRenault1m46.960s
20Pascal WehrleinManor/Mercedes1m47.667s
21Esteban OconManor/Mercedes1m48.296s
22Sebastian VettelFerrari1m49.116s
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