Singapore GP Qualifying: Hamilton takes pole in fine style

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Singapore GP in dominant style

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the Singapore GP in dominant style

Sep.22 (GP247) Lewis Hamilton delivered one of the most impressive qualifying laps of his stellar career to take pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix in fine style on a balmy night, at the floodlit Marina Bay Street Circuit.

(L to R): Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams, pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrate in parc ferme. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday 22 September 2012.It was Hamilton’s 24th F1 career pole position, and with it he became the first driver to start from top spot on the grid in Singapore more than once. The McLaren driver looked set to slug it out with world champion Sebastian Vettel in Q3, as the two were clearly head and shoulders above the rest. Hamilton dug deep to pull out a stunning lap – 1 minute 46.362 seconds – which in the end was nearly half a second better than the next best.

Hamilton emerged from his car clearly content, but there was no celebration, no jumping up on the car, but the message to his team was loud and clear.

He spoke afterwards, “The guys have done a fantastic job all week. Sebastian [Vettel] was incredibly fast through most of the sessions so I’m very happy that I managed to pull that time out at the end. Trying to find a gap in qualifying is hard and making sure everything is up to temperature is hard too, so I feel very fortunate that I got the time [that] I needed.”

Second on the timing sheets, at the end of Q3, was not Vettel but Williams driver Pastor Maldonado who makes no secret of his love for street circuits. The Venezuelan delivered a lap from out the blue, which also sent a clear message to all his critics.

Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday 22 September 2012.“I think we were working very hard. At the beginning of the weekend, we were a little bit lost with set up. We were improving as qualifying went on, trying to adapt the car to my style. We found a well balanced car in Q2 and Q3. I’m really looking forward to the race. Yesterday we showed good pace so I think the race is going to be a good one for us this time,” said Maldonado.

Vettel was mystified why in Q3 he could not deliver in the Red Bull. He was fastest in all free practice sessions prior to qualifying, but when it mattered in the last ten minutes of the session he was only good for third fastest.

“I’m a little disappointed, especially with Q3. Nevertheless it’s a good place to start from on the grid. The pace is there within the car but we didn’t do the last step in qualifying and it’s a shame it didn’t come together at the end,” reflected Vettel.

Jenson Button was unable to match the raw pace of his teammate, but was satisfied with fourth on the grid, albeit a second down on Hamilton.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday 22 September 2012.“It’s not too bad, it’s obviously not as good as my team-mate. All weekend I’ve struggled on one lap to get it together. I hope the problems are not repeated in the race tomorrow,” said Button.

World championship leader Fernando Alonso clearly did not have the car to match Red Bull or McLaren, but as is his custom he went beyond the call of duty to take fifth place on the grid for Ferrari. In comparison, his teammate Felipe Massa failed to make it beyond Q3, being nearly a second slower than the Spaniard. Massa will start 13th.

Alonso said: “We must be happy with the position, we’re striving all we can, but we were not quick enough in practice or qualifying. The McLarens were unreachable so I would like to be in the podium tomorrow and that’s the best we can wish for.”

Force India’s Paul Di Resta impressed with a strong showing throughout the session, making it into Q3 while his teammate Nico Hulkenberg did not. Di Resta will start from sixth, with Hulkenberg a few rows back in 11th.

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday 22 September 2012.Di Resta commented, “It’s very hot out there. We were relatively confident with the car and it was a good qualifying session for us ahead of tomorrow. We always want to push, but being realistic, I would be happy with sixth at the finish. You can just be hopeful that we’re currently in a good points position and hopefully I can stay in that position until the end of the weekend.”

Hulkenberg would have been expecting better, and summed up his evening, “Yes I’m surprised [to miss out on Q3], but I think I know the reason. I’m pretty frustrated. The first run in Q2 was compromised because we went out late and I had to slow to let guys who were on hot laps past. My tyre temperatures dropped as a result so I couldn’t get a feel for the grip level which affects the laps. We had a Q3 car today for sure. It’s a shame.”

Much like the McLaren boys there was a gulf between the two Red Bull drivers. Mark Webber was nearly a second down on Vettel’s best, the Aussie ending seventh fastest.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Saturday 22 September 2012.

Romain Grosjean, on his return from a one race ban, out qualified his Lotus teammate Kimi Raikkonen on his way to eighth on the grid. The Frenchman was pushing really hard on his final run and scraping paint off the walls in the process.


Raikkonen on the other hand never seemed to get to grips with the E20 around the twists and bumps of Marina Bay. He will start 12th after failing to make it into Q3.

Rounding out the top ten were the Mercedes duo, with Michael Schumacher again outqualifying Nico Rosberg. They ended ninth and tenth respectively and will share the fifth row on the grid.

Schumacher reflected, “We played a bit of a strategy game compared to others and we hope it will pay off tomorrow. We looked at who was in Q3 and opted to go with the strategy. We didn’t have a good day yesterday but we definitely improved today.”

Paul Di Resta Force India Bruno Senna was the only casualty of the walls surrounding the downtown circuit. He slammed the wall in Turn 21 – the second time in as many days he has returned his Williams back to the pits needing some major repairs – and will start 17th. With his teammate on the front row, this weekend he will have done nothing to improve his plummeting shares.

The Brazilian explained, “I was pushing too hard and on tracks like this they don’t forgive mistakes, but we’ve got to keep positive for the race. If Pastor is in the top 10 we have good pace for the race. It’s not easy to overtake but we have to push hard tomorrow to get some points from it.”

Last word to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh: “Sebastian has looked very strong all weekend but Lewis timed it well to come good. It’s a great place to start for Jenson too, he may be a bit disappointed, but he kept it cool and he’s on the second row.”

Subbed by AJN.

Singapore Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 22 September 2012

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.285 1:46.665 1:46.362 14
2 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:49.494 1:47.602 1:46.804 17
3 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:48.240 1:46.791 1:46.905 14
4 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:49.381 1:47.661 1:46.939 15
5 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:49.391 1:47.567 1:47.216 14
6 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:48.028 1:47.667 1:47.241 18
7 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:48.717 1:47.513 1:47.475 17
8 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:47.688 1:47.529 1:47.788 16
9 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:49.546 1:47.823 14
10 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:49.463 1:47.943 13
11 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:49.547 1:47.975 12
12 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:48.169 1:48.261 14
13 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:49.767 1:48.344 12
14 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1:49.055 1:48.505 14
15 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:49.023 1:48.774 13
16 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:49.564 1:48.849 14
17 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:49.809 10
18 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:49.933 8
19 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:50.846 6
20 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:51.137 6
21 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:51.370 8
22 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:51.762 8
23 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:52.372 7
24 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:53.355 7
Q1 107% Time 1:55.226

Note: De la Rosa drops five grid spots for an unscheduled gearbox change.

  • hillside

    everybody behind Pastor should be praying for a safe first turn tomorrow!

  • Butterfly

    Actually, everybody in front of him should do that. Either way, you have to be careful with this guy.

  • Matthias O’keeffe


    Not everybody in front of him. Because in front of him is Hamilton. So, i guess only Hamilton will be praying for a safe first turn tomorrow.

  • Butterfly

    @Matthias O’keeffe:


  • Speedo

    How about Grosjean. He has been ragged to and kissed the wall. I hope for once there is no safety car as there has always been a safety car since the inception of the race in Singapore. I hope Lewis wins as he deserves it and keeping fingers crossed the pit crew do not mess up.

  • Hawk

    Guys, psychologically speaking Pastor will be xtra careful like in Barcelona. So it is Vettel who is celebrating that he will be 2nd by the 1st corner. Like Speedo, no safety car. I want a procession to the end.

  • Matthias O’keeffe

    I hope Alonso wins the race or at least get on the podium to keep his lead in the title chase. I hope he will be crowned 2012 World Champion. 3rd title.

  • f1 fan

    Hamilton is the best qualifier in the planet.. , after Senna. I hope he wins and his team dont mess up this time. Go Mclaren !!!

  • Ahmad Khan

    Somehow i see Alonso fighting for the win, wonder how its gonna play out, but he’s definetly going to be on the attack, just hope that the ferrari is much much closer to the RB n Mclaren in race pace.
    A factor could be Maldonado, if he somehow gets a better start and gets the jump on Hami, then although he probably wudnt hold on to the lead for a long tym, but might prevent hami or vettel from running away from the others, which wud make for a much tighter, much more interesting fight

  • sleek

    Mclaren’s pace is really consistent from last few races…even JB isnt going to give-up fight that easily..I hope Alonso attacks and gets a podium finish

  • Tamburello_1994

    Someone needs to put Paul di Resta in a faster car.

  • kaka007

    yeah true man , him along with hulk deserves better cars

  • Butterfly

    Ahmad Khan:

    Yeah, me too. It’s the same situation as in the first half of the championship, isn’t it? Crappy car, qualy 5th, goes on to finish in front of some of the guys with much faster cars.

    This has got to be the weirdest championship battle ever.