Formula One: Red Bull Fade Away Ahead Of Singapore Race
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Fernando Alonso qualified on pole position for the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix after the Red Bull team faded away in the final part of qualifying.
Red Bull, who were widely expected to get another pole position after dominating qualifying sessions this season, found drivers Vettel and Webber in second and fifth positions respectively, while McLaren drivers were sandwiched in between in third and fourth.
Felipe Massa, the other driver from the top three teams, found himself knocked out in the first qualifying session after having problems and stopping out on track. He starts from last position after not setting a time, and will pick up a 10 place grid penalty for using his ninth engine this season. However, he is likely to gain places rather quickly and could finish in the top ten.
Hispania driver Bruno Senna was the slowest driver to set a time, and starts behind his teammate Christian Klien. After posting on Twitter that he had comfortably beaten Klien in practice on Friday, Senna finished over a second behind his teammate.
Klien was only in his first qualifying session in a Hispania car after Yamamoto had food poisoning (but still managed to watch the drama unfold from his garage on Saturday). Sunday is likely to be a pointless race in every way for the Spanish team.
Ahead of them on the grid was Jarno Trulli, who looked as if he might lead the charge to be the fastest of the new teams, but faltered as the other drivers put in faster laps, to leave him 21st, five tenths behind Virgin Racing driver Lucas di Grassi.
Trulli and di Grassi could battle it out to gain their best positions this season, but it is unlikely that they will gain points.
The new team battle continued further up the grid as Virgin Racing driver Timo Glock qualified in 18th, one place ahead of Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen. Glock is likely to make the better start, but it would take a very strange but not impossible sequence of events to see either of them reach their best position and even a points scoring finish.
In the second qualifying session, Force India looked surprisingly uncompetitive, seeing Liuzzi qualify 17th and Sutil qualify 16th. Despite having a good performance in Belgium, their results in Italy and today's qualifying in Singapore seemed slightly strange. This looks set to continue in the race, with the experienced Heidfeld in front of them.
Heidfeld, playing a part in his first race weekend since 2009 after replacing veteran Pedro de la Rosa, finished the second qualifying session in 15th. Compared to last season, when replacement drivers brought in for the final races of the season were very competitive. He is doing well which could be because he has been testing Pirelli tyres in a Toyota car from last year.
Toro Rosso driver Sebastien Buemi will start the race in 14th place, and is likely to finish the race without any points. Ahead of him is the Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov, who hit a wall during qualifying.
Petrov's inexperience is likely to see them switch places at the start, despite Petrov seemingly having the better car. However, it would be good if he could pick up some points to prove that Renault should keep him.
Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari were both knocked out of the top ten in Q2 by Schumacher and Kobayashi, as the German will start in 12th with the Spaniard slightly ahead of him in 11th.
Hulkenberg has had some good races, and I expect him to get ahead of the young Alguersuari and into the points.
Kobayashi just negotiated his way into the top ten, and went out late in the final qualifying session to finish 10th, over one second behind ninth place Michael Schumacher.
The Japanese driver may cause some problems to the old German, but if rain hits the track sometime before or during the race I would suspect Schumacher will move up into the top six after his performances in damp practice sessions.
Polish driver Robert Kubica qualified eighth behind Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who are both likely to stay in their positions, as ahead of them is the highly experienced Barrichello, who is likely to be a barrier between the field and the top five drivers tomorrow.
However, with a street circuit, the prospects of rain and yellow flags and the idea that the race may actually take two hours, it is an exciting prospect.
Then we hit the top five. Webber lost out in qualifying at a track where the Red Bull is supposed to do well, leading some to suspect that passing the FIA tests may have sacrificed some of the speed of the car. Despite this, he should do well and has the ability to win this. The problem is, the drivers ahead also possess that ability.
Jenson Button looks like the first championship contender to be written off, after qualifying in fourth and not seeming aggressive enough. I remember when he won the championship last year, and I can't imagine it happening again. If he wants to be considered, he will have to do well on Sunday night.
In third, British driver Lewis Hamilton, who is currently second placed in the standings, did not seem to be fast enough on the track, and he would have to rely on mistakes from the top two to finish on the top step of the podium.
Second is Sebastian Vettel, who I think will win the race. This is based on his fastest lap being ruined by going too close to the wall, and I think without that he would be fastest.
After controversy in Germany, Fernando Alonso managed to get a race victory that didn't seem to be marred by any team orders in Italy, and became the only non-Red Bull driver to qualify on pole position twice in 2010.
As I mentioned earlier, I suspect that Vettel's inexperience may be the advantage as he may find an overtaking spot that no other driver would have the guts to use, so I predict that Vettel will win, followed by Alonso and Hamilton.
However, you can never tell what might happen under the lights in Singapore tomorrow.
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