Singapore Quali Recap: Vettel on pole, Rosberg to start alongside

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Sebastian Vettel (1:42.841) won pole for the 2013 Grand Prix of Singapore while sitting in the garage. His early fast lap in Q3 was enough to keep the rest of the field at bay, though Nico Rosberg pushed hard enough to come within nine hundredths of his countryman’s time and qualify second. Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber were third and fourth fastest, with Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa set to start on the third row. Massa outqualified teammate Fernando Alonso, while Jenson Button managed to sling his McLaren into eighth fastest.

Q1 was fairly uneventful, but for Massa’s final fast lap, full of rear sliding as he attempted to move out of the knockout zone and on to Q2. He did so, a half second slower than his teammate. Van der Garde hit the wall on his final lap, but completed it. He did not improve and, of course, was knocked out. Raikkonen led the way out for Q2 but did nor fare well through the session. He managed only thirteenth fastest with back issues possibly slowing his pace on the bumpy circuit.

Gutierrez, though, was the man of the day. He shoved his Sauber up to seventh fastest in Q2, splitting Alonso and Massa. He would not set a time in Q3 and qualified tenth, to start alongside Daniel Ricciardo. Though Vettel was dominant throughout the qualifying sessions, he looked a bit worried while watching his rivals lap in the moments after the final flag.

Though Hamilton (1:47.055) led the first practice on the street circuit, Webber and Vettel soon struck back. The Red Bull duo, who were second and third fastest in the first practice, switched order and dominated the second Friday practice. Hamilton slid down the order to fourth, behind teammate Rosberg. The Mercedes teammates were a full second slower than Vettel (1:44.249), who had more than a half second on his own teammate under the lights. They fought only between themselves for the fastest time early in the session.

As usual, it took some time for teams to get going in the first practice as they waited for someone else to get down to the work of rubbering in the circuit. The competitive times came around halfway. Rosberg and Raikkonen joined Hamilton and the Bulls in to fastest five in FP1, while Grosjean did so in FP2, continuing Lotus’ quick practice pace. Ferrari did not fare so well, with Alonso faster than Massa (seventh and twelfth in FP1, sixth and fifteenth respectively in FP2) in both sessions.

Vettel (1:44173) continued his domination in the final practice on Saturday, beating out Grosjean to the fastest time of the weekend to that point. Rosberg, Webber, and Hamilton rounded out the fastest five. Raikkonen dropped down to twelfth fastest, suffering from back pain. Somehow, the drivers managed to make their way through three practice sessions on the Marina Bay street circuit with no major incidents stopping the running.

Maldonado led the way onto the track for the twenty minutes of Q1 under the lights of the Marina Bay circuit, though he did not do so until a minute of the session had elapsed. Di Resta soon followed, then Raikkonen and a slew of other drivers. First times started flowing in with about five minutes gone in the session. Early times were, as expected, well off Vettel’s practice pace, as Maldonado held the top spot through many of the early times. Soon, Hamilton (1:47.087) led Ricciardo, Bottas, Vergne, Grosjean, Massa, Maldonado, Button, di Resta, and Rosberg as the top ten with fourteen minutes remaining.

Raikkonen was quite slow in his first timed lap, but quickly popped up to third fastest, eight tenths off Hamilton. Rosberg did not allow his teammate to rest upon his laurels, posting the fastest time by eight tenths. Approaching halfway, Maldonado had a big wiggle and Alonso locked up in T1, independently of each other, pushing through Q1. Alonso’s lock up had little bearing on his time, as he posted the second fastest time, splitting the difference between the Mercedes teammates.

At halfway, Rosberg (1:46.288) led Hamilton, Grosjean, Alonso, Ricciardo, Button, Raikkonen, Vergne, Bottas, and Massa the top ten. Neither Red Bull driver nor Perez had yet left the garage. The Red Bulls soon joined the fray, but Perez remained in the busy McLaren garage. Hulkenberg and Gutierrez were then the only other drivers without a time, though Hulkenberg (1:45.381) soon went straight to the top on the supersoft tyres. He was nearly a full second faster than Rosberg.

With much of the rest of the field in the garage for final tyre changes, only the Red Bulls and a couple other drivers were lapping as the minutes ticked away. Soon, approaching six minutes remaining, Perez joined qualifying on the softer tyres. Others joined him, increasing the traffic on the circuit. Pic, Chilton, and Sutil, were in the knockout zone with those men who had yet set times. Vettel was second fastest on his first time, dropping to third as Webber (1:45.271) bested Hulkenberg’s time. With those times, van der Garde, Bianchi, Pic, Chilton, Sutil, and Perez were in the knockout zone with four minutes remaining.

At that point, all times had been set on the supersofts, but for those set by Grosjean, Massa, Vettel, and Webber. Massa soon pitted for the softer tyre. Perez took the top spot, beating Rosberg and Webber, only to have Button, then Hamilton go fastest. Alonso slotted into third. The track evolution left Bottas, van der Garde, Bianchi, Pic, Chilton, and Sutil in the knockout zone with two minutes to go. Grosjean remained on the medium tyres.

Webber and Hulkenberg steadfastly remained in the garage with no time to get another time in, sixth and ninth with a minute on the session. Perez and Rosberg pitted, but it was Massa in eighteenth and with one lap to get out of Q1. The top six pitted with no time left, but van der Garde hit the wall. He managed to complete his lap and remain nineteenth.

Massa posted personal best sectors, going well faster than necessary to move up. Gutierrez made tenth fastest and dropped di Resta to the bubble. Massa went thirteenth fastest despite some serious drifting, dropping di Resta out in Q1. Hamilton (1:44.196) led the session, with Button, Alonso, Perez, Rosberg, Webber, Vettel, Ricicardo, Hulkenberg, and Gutierrez the fastest ten of Q1. Grosjean moved on as well, in fourteenth, the only man other than the Red Bull drivers to do so on the medium tyres. The top five were covered by one second.

Knocked Out in Q1:
17. Paul di Resta
18. Pastor Maldonado
19. Charles Pic
20. Giedo van der Garde
21. Jules Bianchi
22. Max Chilton

Raikkonen got the fifteen minutes of Q2 going, despite a bad back, with Ricciardo and Massa following. Other drivers seemed to stream out of the garages directly after. Within the first four minutes, two thirds of the field had begun lapping. Raikkonen had fuel enough for two laps on his first run, posting a first time of the session at 1:44.794. His time came in with just under ten minutes to go, while his teammate, the McLaren drivers, and the Red Bulls still in the garage.

Massa and Ricciardo slid in behind Raikkonen on the timesheets, but Rosberg soon smashed the Finn’s early time by nearly a second. Hamilton and Alonso further split the two, with the Spaniard the fastest man in the 1:44s.

Rosberg still lead with his early time at halfway, over Hamilton, Alonso, Hulkenberg, Raikkonen, Massa, Sutil, Vergne, Ricciardo, and Gutierrez as the top ten. Despite everyone being on used soft tyres, the times continued to drop dramatically from Q1. Vettel and Webber joined with just under seven minutes remaining. Still, McLaren drivers remained in the garage as most of the rest of the field popped in for new tyres.

With five to go, Vettel, Webber, and Grosjean had the circuit to themselves. Massa rejoined with around four to go, as Vettel gained a half second on Rosberg through the first two sectors. He improved dramatically through the final one, very nearly a second faster than Rosberg. Webber went second fastest on his first lap, eight tenths slower than Vettel (1:42.905).

By the time the Red Bulls completed their laps, everyone but Rosberg and Hamilton had joined the track. The Mercedes drivers were third and fourth fastest, gambling that they would be safe to move on to the fight for pole. Vettel and Webber soon pitted in the same confidence. In the final minute, Vergne, Ricciardo, Gutierrez, Bottas, and the McLaren drivers were in the knockout zone. Button and Perez had yet to set times.

Both Toro Rosso drivers looked set to move out of the relegation zone on their final laps. Ricciardo moved up to seventh, with Vergne ninth. Massa managed sixth fastest, with Alonso soon supplanting his teammates. In the final runs, Raikkonen looked safe but was not. Button pushed hard enough to make tenth, dropping Hulkenberg. In the end, Vettel (1:42.905) led Webber, Rosberg, Hamilton, Grosjean, Alonso, Gutierrez, Massa, Ricciardo, and Button off to fight for pole in Q3.

Knocked Out in Q2:
11. Nico Hulkenberg
12. Jean-Eric Vergne
13. Kimi Raikkonen
14. Sergio Perez
15. Adrian Sutil
16. Valtteri Bottas

Drivers lined up to start the ten minutes of Q3, with Vettel leading the way. His teammate, Grosjean, Rosberg, and Hamilton followed, while the Ferrari drivers, Gutierrez, Ricciardo, and Button remained ensconced in their garages. Button waited for some clear track, then began his first run on medium tyres. The others were on superspofts. Vettel got going straightaway, very quick on the first sectors. His lap (1:42.841) was faster than his fastest time of the weekend in Q2, despite looking very smooth and unhurried. Rosberg, Webber, Hamilton, and Grosjean fell in order after their first fast laps. Rosberg was nearly six tenths slower. Button aborted his lap, diving in the pits on a much slower lap.

At halfway, those who had set times returned to the garage, while those who had yet to set times remained there. Massa led the way out for the second set of runs with just over three minutes remaining. Rosberg followed, then Webber, the two leaving the garage at the same time. By two minutes to go, only Vettel was still in the garage. He would not rejoin.

All crossed the line to start a fast lap before the checkered flag, with Webber starting his lap with a faster first sector than his teammate. Massa managed only sixth on his single lap in a wiggly Ferrari. Rosberg also seemed set to give a fight for pole, as he and Webber both went purple in the second sector. Alas, neither could beat Vettel’s time, though Rosberg bested Webber. Grosjean managed to supplant Webber as well, dropping the Australian to fourth fastest. Vettel celebrated his forty-first pole from inside the garage.

Final Qualifying Times for the 2013 Grand Prix of Singapore:

1. Sebastian VettelRed Bull1:42.84111
2. Nico RosbergMercedes1:42.93217
3. Romain GrosjeanLotus1:43.05821
4. Mark WebberRed Bull1:43.15212
5. Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:43.25417
6. Felipe MassaFerrari1:43.89019
7. Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:43.93815
8. Jenson ButtonMcLaren1:44.28216
9. Daniel RicciardoToro Rosso1:44.43916
10. Esteban GutierrezSauberno time14
11. Nico HulkenbergSauber1:44.5559
12. Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso1:44.58814
13. Kimi RaikkonenLotus1:44.65815
14. Sergio PerezMcLaren1:44.7526
15. Adrian SutilForce India1:45.18514
16. Valtteri BottasWilliams1:45.38813
17. Paul di RestaForce India1:46.1218
18. Pastor MaldonadoWilliams1:46.61910
19. Charles PicCaterham1:48.1116
20. Giedo van der GardeCaterham1:48.3206
21. Jules BianchiMarussia1:48.8306
22. Max ChiltonMarussia1:48.9306
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