Vettel breathes sigh of relief as Singapore qualifying session gamble pays off

Anxious moments for Sebastian Vettel and his crew in the dying moments of Singapore qualifying

Anxious moments for Sebastian Vettel and his crew in the dying moments of Singapore qualifying

Sebastian Vettel put pole position on the line with a bold and risky gamble that paid off, after an anxious wait, during qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Red Bull‘s triple Formula 1 World Champion was able to celebrate his 41st career pole while watching the monitors in the team garage after deciding not to go out for a final quick lap around the floodlit Marina Bay street circuit.

The championship leader had stormed to the fastest time ever seen in Singapore and retreated to the garage, then gambled that his one minute 42.841 second lap would be enough to hold off his rivals.

It turned out closer than he had imagined, with fellow-German Nico Rosberg ending the session just 0.091 seconds slower for Mercedes to line up alongside on the front row of the grid for Sunday’s race.

Sebastian Vettel and Christian Horner during Singapore qualifying

Sebastian Vettel and Christian Horner during Singapore qualifying

Lotus’s Romain Grosjean and Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Mark Webber qualified third and fourth.

“I knew we had a cushion which is why we decided not to run again but the thing you don’t know is how much the track improves and I’m sure there was a little bit of track ramping up,” Vettel told reporters after his fifth pole of the season.

“We thought it was good enough…but [it was] probably a bit close.”

Vettel now looks set fair to record a hat-trick of victories in Singapore and extend his 53-point lead in the defense of his title over nearest rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, who could only finish seventh.

“Rocky (race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin) asked me if I was happy not to run again and stay in the garage and I said ‘yes I’m happy’. He asked before how much I could improve if I go again and I told him probably there was a tenth maybe two,” added Vettel.

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull too good in Singapore qualifying

Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull too good during Singapore qualifying

“So I thought there was a tenth in me…it was very close [but] it was not the best feeling when you stand there and watch.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said it was a huge relief to see off the late challenge from Mercedes after Vettel appeared so dominant.

“We were happy after the first run but then Rosberg started going very quick,” he said. “We asked [Vettel] if he thought he could go any quicker, he said a tenth. So we thought hopefully that should be enough and in the end it was pretty tight.”

Mercedes boss Ross Brawn paid tribute to Red Bull’s brave decision to save a set of tyres for the race.

Title number four beckons for Sebastian Vettel

Title number four beckons for Sebastian Vettel

“I suspect the track just picked up a little bit at the end but it was a pretty brave move. It was a tenth or less than a tenth between the two of them, that’s pretty ballsy,” Brawn said.

“I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing that because the track does change. Having said that, he’s given himself a fresh set of tyres tomorrow for the race so it’s worked out for them. But a super, super effort from Nico.

“That’s the great thing about the two drivers we have, that they push each other hard. Not quite so great for Lewis [Hamilton] but I think he’ll be a in a good position for the race tomorrow.” Hamilton will start from fifth on the grid.

 

  • Ukwhite

    Scaring RB’s level of skills in all departments, you cannot stop admiring that.

    The big car names are systematically trashed, sure not easy to digest that. From all Ferrari looks like a prancing pony.

  • BigE

    I heard through our local commentators that RBR make 1000 revisions to the design per week. I’m not saying all 1000 make it onto the car, obviously, but that they have a very cohesive and productive design staff that extends well beyond Adrian Newey (who, despite all his talent couldn’t give Mclaren a dominant era).

    Just go back and look at the RBR wings for Spa. Their mechanical grip is absolutely amazing. Hard to believe for a “energy drink company”, lol. And to think the FIA aren’t helping them the way they helped Schumi and Ferrari’s dynasty!!!

    Cue the troll.

  • Butterfly

    Ukwhite:

    More like prancing donkey. :-)

    BigE:

    I’m not surprised to hear that about RBR.

  • R35

    vettel is a good driver and the good thing is that he’s still improving but I really have to credit the designers and engineers of that car and vettel is so lucky to have the best car and the right skills to match that.

  • Ukwhite

    @R35: no question his car is a rocket, but the way he is driving it, today being one of the best examples, defyies the laws of physics. He is nothing short of Schumacher and Senna,