Vettel takes pole as Red Bulls own the night

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel celebrates his pole position in Singapore parc ferme

Sep.24 (PVM) Sebastian Vettel took another step towards wrapping up the 2011 Formula 1 world championship title by setting the fastest time in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay Circuit.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel will start from pole position for the eleventh time this season

The Red Bull driver was again in another league as he stamped his authority around the tricky street circuit to notch up his eleventh pole position start of the season.

Vettel said afterwards, “I decided to abort my second run when I made a mistake because it is very easy to damage the car so I went wide. I was quite happy with my first lap. I think the circuit ramped up at the end and I think it was possible to go faster but I’m very happy. It’s a very difficult track with such a long lap to get everything right. I think we learned from our mistakes that we made last year. Let’s see tomorrow as it’s a very long race.”

Team mate Mark Webber came close with a late fast lap, which saw him second on the timing screens when the chequered flag dropped to end the session, making it an all Red bull front row.

“I’m happy. It’s been a very testing venue for me in the past. Sebastian laid it down pretty hard and fast. Obviously he was very quick. I’m satisfied given the curved ball teams can face at this track. Both cars are up there so it’s a great result,” said Webber.

Qualifying parc ferme top three (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, second; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, pole position; Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren, third.

Top three pose for photographers after qualifying in Singapore

Best of the rest was Jenson Button who came good on the second day after an out of sorts Friday around the marina. The McLaren pair have looked likely to challenge for top honours since the start of proceedings.

Button summed up his night, “The lap for me was good, both my laps. If I had put them both together it would have been good but you struggle to get it all together round here through all three sectors. It’s something I’ve been fighting all day. I didn’t get much running yesterday so I’m pleased to be in the top three and it’s a good position to be in for the race tomorrow. It’s going to be a challenge.”

Lewis Hamilton’s Q3 was compromised when he suffered a right rear puncture on a set of soft tyres which prompted him to stick to one run, which in the end was only good for fourth place.

“It was quite an eventful one. It was still quite good. They had a fueling problem, we were running out of time and we couldn’t get enough fuel in the car. So we didn’t have enough time for a second run. I’m not in a bad position but I think we could have got on the front row,” lamented Hamilton.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso will start from fifth on the grid

Fifth fastest on the night was Fernando Alonso who manhandled his Ferrari 150 Italia around the unforgiving streets. Team mate Felipe Massa will start from sixth on the grid.

The Ferrari duo will fill the third row of the grid, ahead of the Mercedes GP pair of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.

Qualifying was briefly red flagged with nine minutes remaining of the second session when Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi went airborne after hitting the kerb at speed through the turn 10 chicane and crashed into the wall.

The fifth row will be all Force India with Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta, ninth and tenth respectively, making it through into Q3 but not doing any laps in the final ten minutes – opting to save tyres instead.

Bruno Senna, who by his own admission is still familiarising himself with the nuances Renault R31 which has occupied since Belgium, again outqualified his team mate Vitaly Petrove, this time in dramatic style.

Senna faced the drop in Q1 as he embarked on his final run, but did well to set the 15th best time with a car that is clearly unsuited to the streets of Singapore. Problem for the team is that the time demoted Petrov to 17th and an early shower. Formula 1 can be cruel at times…

Saturday, 24 September – Qualifying

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:46.397 1:44.931 1:44.381 12
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:47.332 1:45.651 1:44.732 14
3 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:46.956 1:45.472 1:44.804 14
4 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.014 1:46.829 1:44.809 12
5 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:47.054 1:45.779 1:44.874 13
6 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:47.945 1:45.955 1:45.800 14
7 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:47.688 1:46.405 1:46.013 11
8 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:48.819 1:46.043 11
9 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:47.952 1:47.093 14
10 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:48.022 1:47.486 14
11 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:47.717 1:47.616 13
12 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:48.061 1:48.082 14
13 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:49.710 1:48.270 16
14 18 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.753 1:48.634 11
15 9 Bruno Senna Renault 1:48.861 1:48.662 13
16 19 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:49.588 1:49.862 10
17 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:48.054 8
18 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:49.835 8
19 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1:50.948 6
20 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1:51.012 6
21 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:52.154 7
22 25 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1:52.363 6
23 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1:52.404 6
24 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1:52.810 6
Q1 107% Time 1:53.844