Fernando Alonso has recently stated that qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix makes up 90 percent of the race. If this is true, then the Spaniard has done a fantastic job to put his Ferrari on pole.
Liuzzi led the pack out and set the first time of 1:50:223.
Early on in Q1 it looked as if the pundits' predictions were correct. The McLarens looked decent, but they didn’t look as if they would beat the Red Bulls or Fernando Alonso.
Worth a mention at this early stage was the performance of Jamie Alguersuari who had been strong in practice and at one point occupied P4.
However, whilst Ferrari power was helping Alonso and Alguersuari, it didn’t seem to be doing much for Massa who had stopped out on track.
The session was Red Flagged, but worryingly it wasn’t clear why the Ferrari had stopped. We later learned that Massa had electrical and or gear box issues.
At this stage the standings were as follows:
Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Button, Alguersuari, Hamilton, Schumacher, Rosberg, Heidfeld (who replaces de la Rossa), Liuzzi, Kobayashi, Petrov, Buemi, Glock, Kovalainen, Trulli, di Grassi, Klien (who replaced Yamamoto), Senna, Massa, Barrichello, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Sutil.
After a break of about five minutes, the session restarted.
With eight minutes to go, Schumacher was seen getting out of the car. The Mercedes driver was safe at the time, but it was unclear whether he was supremely confident, or whether the car had troubles.
Yet, by this stage, the new teams all occupied the drop out zone and with Massa locking the final place out, the only things worth mentioning were that Klien was over one second faster than Senna on his debut, and that Hispania seem to have caught Lotus up. Other than that, another largely uneventful Q1.
Q1 Top Three
Glock, Kovalainen, di Grassi, Trulli, Klein, Senna, Massa
Petrov opened this one with a 1:48:165, but the Renault man didn’t play too large a role in qualifying as he clipped a barrier early on and broke his rear suspension.
It became clear in Q2 that the McLarens were actually faster than first thought. Apparently the silver cars had deliberately done the bare minimum to get into the next stage of qualifying.
I must admit, on the whole the session was again pretty uniform. However, there were some interesting developments in the Ferrari garage.
It all began when Alonso radioed in to report some sort of problem. It looked as if there may have been an issue with his engine mapping, but neither the team, nor the driver sounded very happy or confident.
Alonso put in a banker lap and returned to the pits for the team to investigate. Whatever the problem was, it was clearly sorted out as when the driver returned the track he was back up to pace. He was also calm and courteous enough to radio the team to tell them all was "OK."
The big teams made it through pretty comfortably and despite that strange behaviour in Q1, Schumacher managed to make it into Q3 for the first time since Silverstone.
Q2 Top Three
Alguersuari (who’s early promise faded), Hulkenberg (who will take a five place drop due to a gear box change), Petrov, Buemi, Heidfeld, Suttil, Liuzzi (not good news for the Force India team).
The third session promised much, but ultimately failed to deliver as Alonso’s raw pace was too much for the rest of the pack.
Button set the pace with a 1:46:185, but he was quickly topped by his team mate and then Alonso.
At the half way stage the positions were as follows:
Alonso, Hamilton, Webber, Button, Barrichello, Rosberg, Vettel, Schumacher, Kubica (no time yet), Kobayashi (no time yet).
Vettel was clearly pushing hard, but he just couldn’t answer Alonso’s questions and when push came to shove, neither could Hamilton, or the last man to cross the line, Button.
In many ways the Singapore GP qualifying was interesting. It was a shock to see Massa fall at the first hurdle (of course through no fault of his own). It was also promising to see McLaren and Alonso so fast. It was puzzling to see the Red Bulls struggle. However, interesting as all of this was, qualifying itself was largely unexciting. Having said that, qualifying hasn’t been riveting for a little while now but we still tend to get good races.
Singapore is a very difficult track to overtake on and I must admit I am by no means a fan of the circuit but I do think the grid shows promise. There may be rain on the cards tomorrow which could be fun. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…
1 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:45.390
2 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:45.457
3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.571
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.944
5 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:45.977
6 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:46.236
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:46.443
8 Robert Kubica Renault 1:46.593
9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:46.702
10 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:47.884
11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:47.666
12 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:47.674
13 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:48.165
14 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:48.502
15 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:48.557
16 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:48.899
17 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:48.961
18 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:50.721
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:50.915
20 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:51.107
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:51.641
22 Christian Klien HRT-Cosworth 1:52.946
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:54.174
24 Felipe Massa Ferrari No time