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Alonso lights up Singapore GP qualifying
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Alonso lights up Singapore GP qualifying
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Sep 2010   |  6:11 pm GMT  |  144 comments

Fernando Alonso took pole position under the lights for tomorrow’s Singapore night race in a thrilling battle with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. The pair traded fastest sector times in the final runs, but Vettel brushed the wall, handing Alonso pole by a tenth of a second. It was his 20th career pole and the second in a row this season. Lewis Hamilton was third for 4/10ths ahead of McLaren ahead of team mate Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Mark Webber.

Alonso on pole again (Photo:Ferrari)


The session had started with a scare for Ferrari – Felipe Massa stopped out on the track during Q1, before he had even set a time. He reported a suspected engine failure. This would appear to be an unlucky engine for Massa – the one that he used in the German Grand Prix, where he was forced to hand the win to his team mate. In fact it turned out not to be the engine, but the gearbox.

In the second session, Alonso radioed in that his engine didn’t feel right and asked the team to check the data being transmitted from his car. He was on a hot lap when they radioed him back to tell him to pit so they could reprogramme his car. He pointed out calmly that as he was nearly at the end of a good lap he should finish it first then pit. The team agreed with him.

This was an example of a driver leading a team, precisely the kind of thing Ferrari hired him for.

Among the new teams, the updates brought by the Virgin team certainly boosted them ahead of Lotus. Timo Glock had a margin of 2/10ths of a second over the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen. Meanwhile Christian Klein, who was stepping into the Hispania for the first time, beat Bruno Senna by 1.3 seconds.

Vitaly Petrov made another error, losing the back end on the damp patch on the outside of Turn 5. It’s not the first time he’s lost control of a car on a damp patch and it adds to the already longish list of mistakes he’s made.

Also eliminated in Q2 was Nico Hulkenberg, whose Williams had looked good enough for him to make the top ten all weekend. He was furious with himself and threw his gloves across the garage and smashed his helmet down, unfortunately for him, it was caught on TV. Both Force India cars were off the pace this weekend, Sutil 16th and Liuzzi 17th. Nick Heidfeld on his return to competitive action was 15th a second slower than Kobayashi.

On the first runs in Q3 Red Bull fed Vettel out onto the track too close behind Michael Schumacher and it cost him the run, Webber’s lap was also affected. So it was all on the final runs. Webber couldn’t find the speed, ending up half a second behind his team mate. He said that this was more or less the best he could manage not having ever felt at home on this track this weekend. For him it is a percentage game in tomorrow’s race.

In the final runs of Q3 Vettel was faster in the first and third sectors, but dropped time to Alonso in the middle sector.

Vettel: 28.382 41.258 35.817
Alonso: 28.497 41.094 35.854

That’s how close it is over a lap of 1m 46 seconds!

Vettel still thinks that the Red Bull is the faster car and accepted that it was his fault that he didn’t get pole today,
“I think we have an advantage, yes, but as it turned out in qualifying the others were a little bit closer and we did not get it all together. Probably we should have gone quicker but would, should, could. Can’t change it now, ” he said.

Other notable performances were Rubens Barrichello who was 6th for Williams. This is a track the team has always performed well on and the new front wing and new diffuser on Barrichello’s car made a real difference. The team is once again finishing the season more strongly than it started with 39 points in the last six races and plenty more likely to come for Barrichello tomorrow.

Rosberg was again three tenths faster than team mate Michael Schumacher, while Kamui Kobayashi pulled out a whole second on his new team mate Nick Heidfeld.

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144 Comments
  1. Joao says:

    And again Mr. Botin was on the Ferrari box and suddenly Massa is out on the first lap….coincidence or perhaps….who knows!!

    1. Galapago555 says:

      I thougt only (we) Spaniards did believe that conspiracy theories, but it seems to be crossing the Atlantic to Brazil!!

      Best result for Alonso was Massa 2nd or 3rd, just to hold rivals off. Your suggestion is simply pathetic.

      1. Rabbitleader says:

        Perhaps that is karma for Ferrari so that the other WDC contenders have a fair chance to win without Ferrari team swaps or rear gunners holding off to distort the WDC.

      2. Galapago555 says:

        “…rear gunners holding off to distort the WDC.”

        Ridiculous, isn’t it?

        “rear gunners” like, for example, Seb holding Fernando off in Hungary, just making room for Mark to pit and come back leading the race? Is this what you mean, or something else?

      3. Rabbitleader says:

        Galapago555,

        I see nothing ridiculous in Ferrari employing Massa wherever possible to try and slow down the other four WDC contenders. Why would they not do that to try and secure maximum points advantage for Alonso over the other WDC hopefuls?

      4. GP says:

        Totally agree. Massa will be absolutely useless to the Ferrari cause, unless a freak event plays to his benefit.

    2. RichyS says:

      Maybe Massa’s job is to invoke a Safety Car. Seems Alonso finds it difficult to win without other’s help.

      1. Usi says:

        He can invoke safety car from any place should he need to do so. Why qualify last?

      2. Tom says:

        His two WDCs disagree with you.

  2. michael grievson says:

    I know both hispania drivers are new to the track but it’s got to be bad for senna to be beaten by klein.

    1. Luke robbins says:

      Klien destroyed senna despite not racing for a good few years. Got to be the end for senna

    2. Frenchie says:

      I agree. I was between turns 5 and 6 and he looked a lot more stable than Senna. He has really impressed all weekend to be honest.

      If only HRT could keep him for Suzuka and Brazil – tracks he has raced at before – they may find themselves much closer to Lotus/Virgin than they thought.

      1. artorwar says:

        Senna will be out, ‘Moto back with Klien. Seems a more solid combo.

      2. Coxy! says:

        I honestly think iits a shame HRT have kept senna on. Karun Chandok for me should be racing alongside klien or the japanese geezer not the other way round. When will HRT see the light

  3. David Jones says:

    Impressive calm from Alonso, but what a drive from Hamilton. Considering the McLaren is obviously slower than the Ferrari and Red Bull on this circuit, and that he had generally been slower than Button in practice, this was some lap to pull himself up to third. Lets hope he can get a great result tomorrow.

    1. jeff says:

      I don’t think so. Fernando is the better driver and he showed this today. Fantastic lap, no panic under pressure, leadership while driving …he is in a different level than the others, including Hamilton, who is by the way an extraordinary driver.

      1. Lojen says:

        I think his single season at McLaren might suggest otherwise :)

      2. Bru72 says:

        Lest not forget that Hamilton got no.1 driver treatment that year….which is what lead to Alonso leaving

      3. David Jones says:

        Alonso has some serious weaknesses, and if you remember Kobayashi’s overtake at Valencia, and his general petulance in that race, Silverstone and Spa (where incidentally his qualifying was appalling) cost him nay points. Sleeping at the end of Monaco? Crashing at monaco? No, no, not a different level my friend.

        It is important not to have short memory about these things. The Ferrari is clearly quicker here, but he only qualified 2 tenths quicker than Lewis. I didn’t even touch on Lewis outclassing him at a wet Japan in 2007 (Alonso crashed out trying to keep up)…..

      4. Mick says:

        [mod]. We dont have a clue how much faster if anything the Ferraris around this track yet here you are bashing Alonso for only beating Hamilton by 2 tenths.

        At Japan 07 Alonso had a badly damaaged right side after vettel hit him, where he was losing a large amount of downforce. Hamilton has barely been better than an average driver like Button all year while Alonso has destroyed the highly rated incumbent ferrari driver, massa. Even with his mistakes alonso has been the best driver this year, because unlike hamilton he has had to adapt to a totally new team and car. Wait till next year..

      5. Lilla My says:

        O.K. Spa was Alonso’s mistake, so was the crash in Monaco practice. But the Kobayashi pass is at least controversial – Alonso had totally worn tires while Kobayashi had new ones, so I wouldn’t really make such a big fuss about it.

        As for the Monaco last lap – could people please stop using this as an example for Fernando’s mistakes this season? This is absolutely pointless. Alonso was clearly told by the pit crew that there would be no overtaking till the end of the race (and in fact, that was true), so there was no need for him to watch out for Schumacher. Schumacher broke a rule there, but people still blame Alonso for it…

      6. Shiro says:

        Alonso’s made far too many mistakes to be considered the best this year. I don’t know how you could believe that.

      7. Mr. Wrong says:

        Alonso made mistakes but he has, in these past races, taken most of the points going. Lewis (or tather Lewser) got it wrong once again today for the second race in a row.
        Egg on face for ya, mate.

      8. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

        Let’s be honest if you put Hamilton in that Ferrari and Alonso would be looking for an exit.

        Hamilton is the best driver at the moment….he’s hauled that McLaren way above where it should be.

      9. artorwar says:

        Totally agree Mike. I love Alonso’s style but Lewis is driving so well at the moment. Really putting JB in the shade when it counts.

      10. mo kahn says:

        You put Alonso in a Mclaren he’ll develop it to make it go quicker than the Ferrari which you’d put Lewis in. Its a known fact.

      11. John says:

        It is laughable listening to these ‘arguments’ about Hamilton’s supposedly amazing lap. To me its obvious the Mclaren and Ferrari are pretty much close in terms of speed, and Hamilton and Vettel both admitted they didn’t manage to get 100% out of their cars for qualifying…yet some of the geniuses on here seem to know better than the drivers themselves. I have no problem recognizing a great lap, [mod]

        To play devil’s advocate, Hamilton this season has overtaken a safety car and gotten (widely acknowledged) a weak penalty that didn’t really penalize him at all, as well as ran out of fuel after a Q3 qualifying lap, and not lost position via penalty on either. Alternatively, Alonso this season has received two contentious penalties such as the drive thru for passing Kubica despite his car failing a few laps later. Factoring these in, it would be very easy to see the roles reversed in terms of the Championship between Alonso and Hamilton….but apparently some don’t notice this.

        I hope this doesn’t come off as argumentative but I am just detailing how close it is and how absolutely inept this set of comments are (is a wet Japan 2007 proof of anything? add in all the other races and then talk about driver mistakes). Another good article James. Your site is my favorite because of the depth of insight into formula 1 key news, and secondly because of the knowledgeable fans that are here posting….but I fear the latter reason is swiftly dwindling down with the likes of some of these posts coming in.

      12. mawchi says:

        hamilton this, hamilton that….
        both alonso and hamilton are THE class drivers of this era period.

        Looking solely at this year, ham made less mistakes, but had on average a better car.

        nothing more, nothing less

        ps I agree, alo destroys massa and button can keep up with hamilton just fine

      13. James Allen says:

        Not sure Hamilton has had a better car on average this season. The Ferrari has been stronger at the start and again since June

      14. RichyS says:

        Alonso has sure made a lot of mistakes for such a good driver…

      15. Thalasa says:

        If you think about it, Alonso has only made blatant mistakes when changing teams (and tyres in 2007). It mustn’t be easy for everything around you to change and still pushing to be nº1. Other world class drivers took a few years to win a championship.

        People seems to think Alonso fails when he comes home second, and that says a lot.

      16. jack_faith says:

        point has been made. I thought BBC went a bit overboard in their Alonso appreciation today. I suppose the set-up encourages them to be fulsome. How long was their coverage today for quali?? Those aerial shots do look nice (and come on Bernie, everything else seems to be in hd these days) but how long can you bang on the same theme? I know Eddie is a character etc and Jake is likeable but this is like the kind of treatment Sky give to football. Enough.

      17. Rabbitleader says:

        It’s amazing how some have such short memories when it comes to the many driving mistakes that Alonso has made this year. So Ferrari deliver an improved car towards the end of the season to get Alonso on pole (combined with the uncharacteristic Vettel mistake on what should have been a pole position) and all of a sudden Alonso is crowned the best driver! I don’t think so!

    2. mo kahn says:

      three teams are on par with each other.. RB, Ferrari, Mclaren.

      1. James Allen says:

        No, I still think the Red Bull is faster, just that the drivers underperformed. But Ferrari have got the gap right down now

      2. Paul says:

        I disagree James, I think Mclaren have completely closed the gap, I not only come to this opinion by the qualy lap times but more so by the drivers body language in the interviews after qualy, both Webber and Vettel looked absolutely gutted and I believe it was because they now realise their advantage has gone, while on the other hand Lewis sat in the press conference after the race looking like a little boy with a huge secret to tell but not being able to, he had a little smirk on his face which looked like it was going to burst into a huge great smile at any time.

        Whats the secret?
        Lewis knows Mclaren have handed him the car to go and win that world title!

      3. Coxy! says:

        Red bull is by a long shot the fastest car and ferrari have done well to catch them up that much is true. From my perspective Mclaren have unfortunatly a slower car but it is to the drivers credit that they are still in the game. Lewis for him unrattled determination (sometimes getting him into trouble like in monza) and lets not forget jenson for his inspired pit stop calls and his consistancy.People will moan about the pros and cons for their favoured drivers he was hard done by here but forget he got away with it there,that is a fact.
        Lewis will do well today that i am sure of as one thing the boys at Mclaren can do is get away from the line. One thing both ferrari and Reb Bull have consistantly failed to do. As long as the pit crew speed up their stops i think this will again be Mclarens race to win and Ferrari and RB’s to loose.

      4. mo kahn says:

        Agreed :)

      5. mo kahn says:

        Agreed… But Redbull has a driver performance deficit… so while Ferrari’s car deficit is kept in check by brilliant drives from Alonso.. the Mclaren car deficit is being compensated by brilliant drives from BOTH Lewis and Jenson.

        So, while Redbull’s drivers are constantly destructing and driving a notch below the what the car is capable of… The Ferrari driver in form of Alonso and Mclaren’s Both drivers are driving a notch above what their car is capable of.

        So, in a way all three teams are on equal platform in terms of the complete package.

      6. Vignesh says:

        Interesting that nobody talks about the FIA recent tests… Surely it has hurt redbull… I dont see Mclaren and Ferrari closing the 1.5 secs advantage they had in Hungary with their new updates… Its red bull getting bit slower…

  4. Andrew Brown says:

    What a shame they released Lewis to close to Jenson, he was on his last lap when the back wash from Jenson’s car affected his downforce on the last sector – seems a big mistake from the team to me, I think Lewis had pole in him today !

    1. James W says:

      Jenson was the last of the drivers on the track.

      1. Andrew Brown says:

        Sorry I meant his first run (his fastest lap)in the last session when Jenson was in front of him !

    2. mo kahn says:

      Lewis was never on the same planet as Alonso and Vettel today… those two were blindingly quick today.. if it rains then no one will touch Lewis, he is the quickest in rains, the only thing inhibiting him is his car, there are no short comings from him otherwise.

      1. Dave S says:

        mmmm dont recall Lewis being the fastest in China when JB left him behind in the rain until he lost temperature in the tyres, if it rains (fingers crossed) it will be a fight between Lewis JB and Vettel. Sorry but Alonso and Webber just cant cut it in the wet.

    3. jad says:

      The team?
      Lewis could make more space with Button. The same error in Monza with Webber

  5. frosty says:

    Jenson hinted in the BBC interview that he couldn’t overtake Hamilton at the first corner.
    So he’ll play rear gunner to Hamilton, making Webber really have to fight to get on the podium.
    While the top three are going to be very competitive off that line.

    This race could be E P I C!!

    1. Jason C says:

      I don’t think that’s correct – here’s a quote taken from Adam Cooper’s blog:

      My biggest issue is that I’ve got the same car as mine just in front, and he’ll get just as good a start as me. I won’t be able to overtake him off the start, but you never know into Turn One.

      So from that quote I infer the reverse – that he hopes to overtake at the first corner.

      Source: http://adamcooperf1.com/2010/09/25/jenson-button-there-are-a-few-people-id-rather-be-in-front-of/

      1. frosty says:

        ok.
        maybe you are right. it was just how I took his body language / expression when saying it.
        am not trying to stir anything.
        I think it’s pretty sensible not to have team mates challenging into the first corner for sake of the team. race when tyres and brakes are up to temperature. or make a better strategy call.
        first corner is going to be tricky enough….

    2. jeff says:

      Team orders? They have made a big deal of Ferrari situation, especially Jenson. He will walk out from F1 if team orders are approved by the FIA. Strange…

      1. artorwar says:

        He will take his pay cheque and suck it up. He’s lucky to have had 2 seasons in front running cars.

      2. Rubinho's Keyfob says:

        Not sure about “team orders” in this case. I think that if any team “opinion” has been passed down, it’s just to not be stupid in the opening lap. Off a start, all sorts of systems won’t be working optimally yet (tyres, brakes etc), so give each other room in that situation and then race properly when the car’s condition is such that it is more predictable and can be handled.

        We all saw what happened to Lewis in the last race – he pushed somewhere he shouldn’t really have been trying to go at that stage of the race.

        McLaren certainly would not want to see a repeat of that involving two of their own cars despite them pushing the “we’ll let them race, even if it costs us” line.

        “We don’t care who comes first as long as you don’t hit each other” is not “team orders” … if that’s what they are really saying behind closed doors – and I believe that for the most part it actually is.

  6. Tommy K. says:

    The Singapore Arena, is the best place for the 5 GLADIATORS to fight! It’s gonna be an epic race tomorrow!! Can’t wait!

  7. Galapago555 says:

    The race will be absolutely fantastic. All five title contenders on the top five positions… Vettel and Lewis “mano a mano” on the first corner… Mark pressing Jenson from the very beggining… and Fernando starting from Pole. Fingers crossed for a wet race, more than ever.

    It’s better than I ever dreamed about!!

    1. Galapago555 says:

      Sorry, I must try to improve my English…

      Obviously, I meant “Fingers crossed for A DRY RACE…” :-D

  8. Jameson says:

    Singapore brought us the most intense dry qualifying session of the season thus far. The entire grid was fighting tooth and nail trying to claw away time from their competitors, and it was an epic battle—even at the back of the grid.

    I was rather impressed by Klien jumping in a new car on a new circuit after being out of a racing seat for four seasons. Glock showed the Virgin’s improvement, and Kovalainen getting in between the two Virgins was a great showing for a team that has stopped development on the 2010 chassis.

    Kubica’s Q2 lap was absolutely blisteringly fast, and I would go as far to say that it was my favourite point in the entire session. He is consistently impressing this season, and I hope that Renault can provide him a solid car for 2011 so we can see him battle for wins with the other top drivers.

    Good luck to Jenson and Lewis—I hope they both get great starts and can consolidate another 1-2 for McLaren!

    1. MAS says:

      Klien didn’t exactly jump in a new car. He did a couple of Friday-sessions for HRT back in the summer and we know the car hasn’t changed at all since then. That’s not to say he wasn’t good though. A few practice sessions isn’t really comparable to a Saturday so he did well.

      Come to think of it, in his first practice in Spain he also outperformed Senna. Perhaps poor Bruno is just not that quick?

      1. jack_faith says:

        yeah. Did Senna have had an issue? So far off Klien.

      2. devilsadvocate says:

        Lets not forget here that Senna was consistently head and shoulders above Karun and Sakon when they were running, its a real shame that HRT didnt run Klien sooner from what he showed today, I imagine the newcomers race would look a little different.

      3. MAS says:

        Unlike Chandok and Yamamoto, Klien apparently doesn’t come with juicy sponsors. Unfortunately HRT depends on that for survival (such as it is – survival without development is just delaying the inevitable). Chandok didn’t lose his seat because of bad performance but because his cheques stopped coming in.

        I don’t actually think there was that much in it between him and Bruno. Bruno out-qualified him 6-3 but Chandok didn’t get any decent mileage until he completed(!) the second race so that number is a little distorted. He also almost always beat Senna in the race (and not all of Senna’s DNF’s were breakdowns remember). Anyway, my point is that the difference between those two aren’t that big.

        Yamamoto harkens back to the late eighties and early nineties. Unlike Chandok (or for example Petrov) he isn’t there because of a mix of commercial considerations AND talent. He’s there because he pays and it’s a rather sad sight in modern F1. That also means he’s not really a good yardstick for Bruno, except to say Bruno is at very least not pathetic (but we already knew that!).

        I agree 100% that if Klien had been driving since the beginning of the season, the battle for 10th would look different. Virgin, and perhaps even Lotus, would have been under a lot more pressure early in the season. But that wouldn’t have lasted for the same reason they cannot afford to NOT run a pay-driver. They have no money. No money means no development AND no good driver and possibly, no car for next year.

        On that front I hope they can do a good deal for next year. Be it at Kolles’ DTM factory or with Epsilon. It’s already very late though and I can’t really imagine they’ve even started the new car (no news of major new hirings or facilities, even though that usually makes the F1 news).

        If they can pull something out of the bag then maybe Klien and Senna get a better shot next year (which they both deserve). Unfortunately, for next year I cannot see HRT anywhere but at the back of the grid or out altogether. And as for Klien’s prospects, HRT is apparently sounding out de la Rosa. That makes a lot of sense for them (experienced, good developer, backed by a little Burger King money) but spells doom for either Klien or Senna. I think Klien is most likely to lose out on that because HRT will want to milk the goodwill of Senna’s name (especially when the film comes out). The fact they haven’t already replaced Bruno for another paying driver pretty much proves that.

        As for Chandok, Force India should just dump Liuzzi, promote diResta to a full-time race seat and hire Chandok as a test driver and give him a couple of Fridays.

  9. Frankie says:

    “This was an example of a driver leading a team, precisely the kind of thing Ferrari hired him for.”

    Fair play to Alonso, but this really questions the pit rather than anything exceptional from Alonso.

    1. jeff says:

      give Nando some well-deserved credit..

      1. C says:

        No, no, you are missing the Hamiltonian mindset: If Alonso says or does anything, it’s either a dastardly deed or just proof that his team is weak. He’s both an evil, cunning schemer and an idiot, at the same time!

    2. GP says:

      A few years ago the BBC produced a series called “Weekend of A Champion.” During the Australian GP, Senna’s last race with McLaren, we hear the team telling Ayrton to pit for new tires. He gave the team the same kind of answer that Alonso gave his team today and stayed out and won.

      When a driver “walks the talk” the team listens.

      1. Rabbitleader says:

        Does that include the leadership Alonso shows with his whining over the radio such as at Valencia this year when even the BBC commentators said that he was so focused on Hamilton’ race that he was distracted from running his own race?

      2. Frankie says:

        The pit crew can see the sector times and should realise the importance of getting that lap in. The pit crew made an error in not taking everything into account, something Alonso put right.

        I am more surprised at Ferrari for not being on the ball in this regards, not Alonso’s decision.

    3. Galapago555 says:

      Don’t think it questions the pit, simply it’s a good example of teamwork, with the leadership of an outstanding driver. Should there had been a bigger problem, at least Fernando would have probably passed to Q3.

      Btw, it’s funny to see how all 5 front runners have made mistakes throughout all the season, and now, when it comes the time to deliver, Fernando seems to be recovering his well know consistency and cold blood.

      Amazing end of the season!!

  10. Jason C says:

    Exciting session!

    Brilliant job from Klien (probably). What was Senna’s problem? Couldn’t he find a set-up or something?

    It was unfortunate that Heidfeld was that slow compared to Kobayashi; I wonder if it’s his old heating-up-the-tyres problem again? He’s really going to have to sort that out if he wants to appear again in 2011.

    All in all, I’m pretty excited about the 5 championship contenders being in the top 5 grid slots. The two at the front of the grid are two of the three that we’d need to win to keep this tight battle going and as tight as ever. Excellent!

    1. Baktru says:

      Senna’s just been horrible all weekend. Every session I’ve seen, he’s had issues.

      My predictions for tomorrow include an Alonso win, before Webber and Hamilton. Vettel will pull a Vettel somewhere. And there will be an SC atsome point caused by Senna.

    2. David Hamilton says:

      Not really surprised that Nick wasn’t as quick as Kobayashi: in a new car, with different tyres from last year, no testing and almost no dry running this weekend.

      The camera was onboard with Nick on his last lap, and it looked like he’d cooked his tyres, rather than lack of temperature. He’d been quick in sector 1 and then the times just fell away, and he seemed to be fighting the car.

      I also think that Kamui pulled an excellent lap in Q2: He failed to match his own time by 3/10ths in Q3.

      1. Conor says:

        I’m sorry bit that seems like a heidfeld biased post, q2 is always the fastest session as there’s not full race fuel on board

      2. James Allen says:

        There is no race fuel in Q3 anymore, that rule changed this year. Now all 3 sessions are low fuel so Q3 is the fastest session

      3. Mojo66 says:

        In an interview Nick said that he was asking too much from himself and the car in Q2 and was overdriving it. It could be that the tires were too hot also, but I don’t think that this is possible after only two laps on a damp track.

      4. David Hamilton says:

        Yes, fair point. I think overdriving is the better explanation.

  11. Frenchie says:

    Great action at the track today.

    I was on the other of the intersection where Massa retired and could hear the crowd cheer. Very funny. He then got a lift back in front of us but no bad spirit there in the traditional Singaporean quietness.

    Both Jarno and Heikki looked to be lacking rear-end grip in P3 between Turns 8 & 9 and at during Q3 out of Turn 14. Glock and DiGrassi looked much more confident.

    Another driver that looked to be struggling out of T14 was Heifeld. It’s no surprise he is behind Kobayashi although he did not seem to be very confident in his car either. He is obviously a great driver in becoming. A lot of the public I spoke to seems to rate him well.

    There seem to be a huge Irish contigent there. And by the way James, you’ll need/to export yourself better there – they have no idea who you were when I mentioned I was followimg a Tweet feed during all sessions. :-)

    As for the top guys, it is too difficult for the naked and untrained eye to see anythong that separates them. The McLarens make a very different sound from each other under braking though. I suspect the blown diffiser and exhausts are affected by Lewis and Jenson’s style of driving.

    We might have the most interesting Singapore GP yet. Can’t wait!

    PS: James, there’s a typo – Lewis is third not fourth.

    1. Rabbitleader says:

      Agree.. It’s far from clear who is going to win the Singapore GP. Has anyone won from pole this year?

      BTW….I just love the sound of the distinctive McLaren Merecedes engine!

      1. Galapago555 says:

        “Has anyone won from pole this year?”

        err… Fernando, a fornite ago, in Monza? :-D

      2. Rabbitleader says:

        Oh yes….Not a memorable of race!

      3. Frenchie says:

        I think you are referring more to the noise made by the exhausts combined with the double diffuser rather than the engine itself. Very impressive nonetheless. It was far more pronounced on Jenson’s car than Lewis’.

        I think Mark Webber also won from pole in both Spain and Monaco, Hamilton in Canada and Vettel in Valencia.

  12. tEQUILLA sLAMMER says:

    what the hell is Bruno doing??? Klien hasnt driven in F1 since 2006 and then comes in 1.3 secs faster than Bruuuuno!!! Shambles!!! Bruno must quit and stop giving his Mum a hard time!!!! Hes never going to win in F1 so he must go at seasons end!!! Complete waste of time there!!! As for Fernando where do we start?? Absolute brilliance!!! I have him down to win 4 of the next 5 races!!! #:)

    1. jay harte says:

      completely agree mate
      its time for bruno to go and stop ruining the senna name .
      klien who has been on the side lines for 4 years comes in and
      blows brunos times away , bruno he has no talent or speed to keep his seat IMO .

      ps: alonso on a real role now
      the others are shaking now i fear ,here comes nando and he means business .

      1. SteveB says:

        Agree too. Get Chandok back alongside Klien. But I fear it’s more about the size of your wallet than your talent.

  13. Frenchie says:

    … And apologies for my typos and the duplicate post. Writing on a Nokia E63 at 3am is a bit of a challenge.

  14. Grabyrdy says:

    After all this excitement, it could of course be a very boring race. Hope it rains !

  15. Grabyrdy says:

    Another thought :
    Seb veers over at the start to keep Lewis behind and Jenson goes around both.

    Looking forward to your “how’s it going to pan out”, James.

    1. Galapago555 says:

      And getting through the first chicane, Seb crashes into Lewis’ car… both out of the race. Then, Jenson and Mark struggling for P2 and so Fernando cruising for an easy win.

      Vamos, Nano!

      1. Matt B says:

        And even if he’s not in the lead they could always get Massa to crash and bring out the safety car eh?!

      2. artorwar says:

        Surely you mean Venga Nando?

      3. Galapago555 says:

        mmm… After being a Spaniard for the last 44 years, and an Alonso fan since 2001, I am pretty sure I meant “vamos, Nano!” ;-)

      4. Zobra Wambleska says:

        Or…Alonso veers over to block Vettle and they both go out leaving Lewis in charge.

      5. Galapago555 says:

        LOL… seems that our favourite drivers are not the same!!

        So, would you agree simply that Seb does not pull a Vettel during the first lap, nor on Lewis, neither on Fernando, and so we can have a “normal” race…

  16. Lilla My says:

    Is it just me, who’s worried about Alonso’s engine? I had a feeling there was something wrong, but that might be just my impression and I so hope I’m wrong.

    Great session with a great outcome. It’s a shame Massa has to start from the end of the grid (I don’t know if he can beof any help for Alonso tomorrow). I thought they might give him brand new engine now as he wouldn’t get any penalty for that anyway, so that would be a good moment, considering the Ferrari engine situation.

    Can’t wait for the race tomorrow – gonna be really exciting. I hope Alonso will finally make a good start and Vettel won’t cause any unnecesaary trouble as he tends to be quite unpredictable. Especially first three positions at the start look really thrilling to me (great job by Hamilton). Fingers crossed for Fernando to stay out of trouble and win the race. He’s always been good in Singapore, I hope he confirms that on Sunday.

  17. Rich C says:

    Alonso has to just hope that Vettel doesn’t pull a “Vettel” on him at the start!

    1. KRB says:

      And Vettel has to hope that Fernando doesn’t pull a “Vettel” on him either, like he tried on Button for the Monza start. What’s the betting line on them making contact in the centre of the track, 50 ft down from their grid boxes?

    2. Lilla My says:

      I honestly hope that Hamilton (and maybe even Button) passes Vettel at the start. For the safety reasons I would so much prefer to have Hamilton rather than Vettel behind Alonso.

  18. Kedar says:

    James whats your prediction for the first corner? obviously Fernando and Vettel havent been the best starters this season

  19. frosty says:

    I am interested in what you all think of bringing Massa in on lap 1, changing the tyres and letting him run and run.
    can’t hurt and might just bring him into a tactical play in the closing stages….

    1. Mojo66 says:

      Interesting idea, at least if they know that there won’ be a SC. But that’s rather improbable, plus the cars of the new teams are so dramatically slower than a Ferrari, that they shouldn’t cause too much trouble. They will probably let him catch up to Heidfeld and call him in, unless there is a SC.

    2. tank says:

      if the track is damp at the beginning it cant work of course, but if not… its an interesting strategy. Did anyone manage to watch any of the practice sessions (see what the tire degradation was like)? I wonder if he could manage the whole race on options (after his first lap stop).

      1. James Allen says:

        Just arrived at the track 1pm and it’s baking hot and sunny. I don’t see rain myself

      2. James H says:

        It’s Singapore – give it 5 mins and it could be heaving it down :)

      3. Galapago555 says:

        FAN TAS TIC !!!

      4. Ibrahim Patel says:

        Thats what people say in malaysia hehe

  20. Paul says:

    Barrichello, Rosberg and Kubica are in great positions. If they get a good start they would really get in amongst some of the championship contenders and take a few places in the knowledge that they have a championship to think about. A podium is no impossible for any of them, especially if there is rain tomorrow.

  21. Ago says:

    Hi James !
    You wrote Felipe was using the Germany engine, may I ask how do you know that ?
    I am trying to figure out what engines were used where and I cannot find this information anywhere. I made the (quite logical and obvious) conclusion that this is a confidential information the teams never make public…
    So how do you know ?
    Many thanks in advance…

  22. zenmeister says:

    I predict that that RBR will have brakes issues, so Alonso for the win and Lewis (or maybe Jenson) for 2nd.

  23. guy says:

    As massa is changing his engine (he is last anyway) can they re-use the engine they have taken out in future races if it is okay?

    1. Galapago555 says:

      I think the answer is yes. No restrictions to re-use engines. The rules give a ten position grid penalty when a new engine is used after #8. No rule about re-using engines, I think.

    2. artorwar says:

      No, I understand it is curtains for that engine, although someone may be better informed than me….

    3. Martin says:

      For the first eight engines, if an engine is replaced after qualifying can only be used for practice in later rounds, except the last race, where the engine may be used. I’m not sure if there are any extra rules with additional engines besides the grid penalty each time an new engine is needed. Therefore, Massa may be able to use this engine in Abu Dhabi. With a new engine for three rounds and one engine that has done only Monza, he should be okay without the one used in Singapore qualifying.

      1. Galapago555 says:

        Yep, that’s it. Look at

        FIA REGULATIONS IN DETAIL
        SUMMARISED VERSION
        FIA REGULATIONS IN DETAILSpare cars, engines, gearboxes and homologated partsPublished with permission from the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.

        28) SPARE CARS, ENGINES, GEARBOXES AND HOMOLOGATED PARTS
        e) If an engine is changed in accordance with Article 34.1 the engine which was replaced may not be used during any future qualifying session or race with the exception of the last Event of the Championship.

        (article 34.1 is about parc ferme regulations)

  24. Andy C says:

    James

    any info on the HRT response to Klein quali today? I’m intrigued to know whether Bruno have issues, or did Klein just nail it.

    Very rarely do we see such a large gap without someone having issues?

    If it is genuine performance, hats off to the guy. You get a chance, you have to take it.

    Glad to see Jenson up at the sharp end during quali and practice. Come on JB. Banzai first corner!

    1. Andy C says:

      I also meant to say, brilliant from Fernando today. He’s starting to build up momentum now.

      1. Pole Sitter says:

        His momentum started after being petulant and convinced his team to cheat. It will be amazing seeing him sail off into the lead only to have a problem 2 laps from the end. Karma baby!!! Oh yea :)

      2. Andy C says:

        I’m not an alonso fan, I was talking about his driving, not that incident (which I didn’t agree with)

    2. Paul says:

      To be fair to Bruno, he did set his best lap on tyres that weren’t in good shape after his spin so he would have been a lot closer to Klien without that moment.

      I had wondered why Klien and not Chandhok was given the seat this weekend, but I guess they wanted to see what an experienced driver could do.

  25. Peter Abatan says:

    Is there something about Vettel makes him very vulnerable when the pressure is on. Even when qualifying he still makes mistakes, which gives Alonso pole position.

    As great a driver Vettel is I think he needs a sports psychologist, if he currently has one I think that person needs changing. This guy has so much talent and I feel it is not fully exploited.

    I hope reliability is on Alonso’s side, this is guy has so much talent, as I said in a previous comment if Ferrari had given Alonso half the chance as RBR had given Vettel this season he would have wrapped up the championship.

    1. Paul says:

      Yea right if redbull had backed Vettel like alonso is backed at Ferrari trust me he would ve wrapped up the championship as well

      1. KRB says:

        You’re saying they haven’t? It seems to me they’ve gone waaaay out of their way to always make sure he gets another chance. He should be leading the DWC but he’s not, and a lot of it is down to him alone. He might still do it (their car is THAT good), but if he does, he will have certainly made hard work of it. FA or LH in an RB6 this year and the DWC would already be in the bag.

      2. Peter Abatan says:

        That is a risk RBR will be unwilling to take. Remember, unlike Alonso Vettel has not won a champinoship yet. So how can you back someone who is yet unproven.

        On the other hand even if Vettel was backed by RBR I am still not sure it would have made a difference. I feel that Vettel has to get rid of those gremlins that haunt him to enable him transform into a true potential champion.

        Maybe I’ll eat my words at the end of the season, who knows.

  26. mo kahn says:

    It was a wonderful drive from Alonso.. very controlled, composed and precise. He looked void of pressure and was completely focused on extracting the maximum out from the Ferrari.

    An exemplary drive. Ofcourse, the race is another issue and Ferrari look rather fragile. So its all to play for.

    Happy Singapore GP everyone :)

    1. Peter Abatan says:

      That is what makes Alonso a prized asset, without doubt Ferrari is not the best car on the grid, RBR is. At the same time he able to squeeze out every bit of efficiency out of that car.

      This is the stuff true champions are made of.

  27. Pole Sitter says:

    That was an exciting quali. It was amazing to see Mclaren hide so much of their true pace until Q2 and the unleash their silver dogs. I think christian horner will regret calling Alonso their chief rival for the title only a few days ago. Mclaren have already started saying that RB probably never dreamt they’d be so close. Let the mind games rage on!

    1. Santiago says:

      One tenth slowlier than RBR is nothing, even when Hamilton did a good job and Sebastian maybe not that much and probably the actual gap will be closer to 3 tenths. And taking into account the McLaren incredible starts they are title contenders, no doubt about it!

  28. Thomas, Canada says:

    This is, by all accounts a similar track to Hungary, where Red Bull were 1.2 seconds faster than Ferrari and 1.7 seconds quicker than McLaren.

    So, the results of qualifying suggest the new FIA “flex tests” and improvements made by Ferrari & McLaren have eroded all of Red Bull’s advantage.

    Red Bull will kick themselves if they loose the drivers & constructors championships. All season long I thought one of the Red Bull drivers would win the drivers championship, but I am starting to think it could come down to Alonso & Hamilton…

    Whatever, tomorrow’s race will be mega!

  29. RickeeBoy says:

    Amazing Not one mention of Webber in 25 Replies –

    It was obvious at Spa and now here that Mark’s playing the numbers game –

    - Qualify ok
    - Pick up points and let the others catch him.

    He’s in a “just get it to the finish” mode and let all the shouting happen around him. He wants the big prize and has worked out the numbers.

    So will some fireworks happen with all the ego ‘s out there ???

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s had two difficult races and still come away with 24 points. I can see him getting 10 or 12 points today to keep the scoreboard ticking over

      1. artorwar says:

        The football saying goes it’s better to win 2, lose 1 than to draw all 3. Only takes a mechanical failure or a nudge by someone to scupper him and let someone else in the door. Although I really hope not.

  30. DK says:

    Looks like its the perfect time for Massa to use another engine regardless of his problem. The grid penalty will be meaningless this race and he has another engine to use for the next four races. This can be pretty useful for him to keep up with Alonso and play his supporting role.

    1. Santiago says:

      No supporting role for Massa my friend, he is doing his own way as we saw in Monza. I’m pretty sure in Ferrari they are not very happy with that

  31. Martin says:

    I’d be interested to find out more about Webber’s lack of performance here. I took a look back at 2008 and 2009 to see if there was a trend. In 2008 he had a poor Q2 and was just ahead of Coulthard and spent the race in traffic until the gearbox failed. Last year he was a tenth off Vettel in Q1, 3 hundredths quicker in Q2 (for second and third but nearly two tenths off Rosberg) and then 5 tenths off in Q3 with only one lap more fuel. The race he couldn’t keep up with Vettel (similar to a few races last year, like Abu Dhabi, Vettel had an edge in getting both tyre sets to work), prior to Mark being told to move behind Glock and Alonso. Mark’s fastest lap was nearly a second slower than Sebastian’s.

    Anyway, there is no evidence that Webber excels at Singapore, unlike Monaco, where he has had a number of good results. Is this just like Roger Federer losing to players he shouldn’t, i.e. just a couple of bad days? Has Luscious Liz cracked again? Mark is purely blaming himself from what I’ve read. Is copping it on the chin a good idea confidence wise?

    Running the car close to the walls would appear to be an obvious area to make up time at Singapore, so accuracy and precise inputs will help bring time. Is he just lacking something in feel this weekend (jet lag?) that means he isn’t going as close to the walls?

    Have the other drivers spent more time in the simulator going around Singapore, or taken it more seriously? Is there a slightly conservative mindset at play as he is leading the championship, never finished at Singapore and doesn’t want to do what Lewis did in Monza.

    Overall, the other four championship contenders have a better history of consistent performance throughout a season (Mark has never won a title since karting), and all sorts of comments will be made about talent levels on this site (Lewis and Fernando in particular), but relatively, this Mark’s worst qualifying performance of the year. In Bahrain and Germany there were errors when Mark was at least vaguely competitive. This may be more like Turkey where Sebastian had a clear edge in qualifying pace, but in that case circumstances got in the way.

    We will probably never know unless someone asks Mark some hard questions and he is willing to think about them and then tell the interviewer. It was interesting to me that he picked the qualifying closeness, so he has obviously studied things closely.

    1. James Allen says:

      Interesting analysis. I spoke to Mark at length last night and this just isn’t one of his tracks – he knew that coming here. He kind of implied that he’d expected to be 3/10ths off Vettel here, probably on row 2. It was slightly worse than that, but lucky for him that Massa had a problem or he could have been P6.

      1. Steve JR says:

        James, do you know why it is that certain tracks suit the driver better than others? I mean, we know Mark can deliver on twisty turny tracks with armco like Monaco, so why can’t he dial into Singapore?

  32. Wombat says:

    I’m watching at turn 17 with a lot of guys in red shirts with Espana on them…………
    In turn 17 it has been damp outside a narrow line and that line has a repair patch on the outer edge.
    Only Alonso and the Lotus guys seem to do a smooth turn between the patch and the inner painted edge.
    The rest seem all over the place with on-off throttle – and a spread of maybe a metre on drive lines.
    Seems like there is more to come from getting that corner correct.
    I was raining heavily yesterday from mid morning to mid afternoon, started drying out late afternoon and evening.
    This morning it was sunny and as the morning has passed it has become cloudy – so the track will have been drying-out.
    BUT the forcast is for rain later – so this may be a wet race or on a track that is wet from recent rain – so all practice bets are off.
    Did anybody practice with the rain tyres in P1?
    The weather radar has lots of cloud coming in from the east.

    From the timing data Alonso has himself dialled-in, Vettel is trying very hard but his banzai lap nearly had him undone – so edgy stuff.
    The rest seem cautious – if there is such a thing inside a F1 car on damp roads between barriers!!!

    Alonso should win (well he needs so for our sakes in the stand at turn 17! – all those red shirts……).
    Vettel if he can hold it together should give him a run for his money.
    Hamilton, Button (smoothness may make his day?) and Webber will be there ready for their chances.
    But the dark horse is Kubica – a good strategy could have him on top of the podium.

  33. KRB says:

    JA, forgive me as I’m sure you’ve covered this in a previous post, but how exactly does the FIA make sure that the teams/drivers stick to the 8 engine limit? I mean, if you change enough components in an engine, then you could in some cases rebuild a “broken” engine. Or how do they make sure you’re not swapping in your teammate’s engine, leaving him with the garbage.

    Spot on about Ferrari being quick at the start of the year and since Germany. FA has w/o doubt made more errors than LH in this season (LH has always finished 6th or higher whenever he’s finished a race; no other contender can say that). Only LH’s Monza retirement was down to an error (a grave error at that), in Spain it was a wheel rim and in Hungary a gearbox. LH has had 3 retirements, FA 2 to date.

    Lastly, whomever said that LH was given no.1 status in 2007 has no idea what they’re talking about!!! If that were so, he would’ve got the first pit stop in China instead of having to stay out on bald tires, which ultimately cost him the DWC that year. LH couldn’t race FA in Monaco, and LH’s engineer after the USGP2007 told Lewis he owed Ron D a favour b/c he refused FA’s request that LH slow to allow him to pass, during that race (check the YouTube of it, and how a rookie held off a 2x DWC getting a great tow off LH after LH was held up by a backmarker, and tell me again that the kid is not special).

  34. Robert Lujan says:

    Great Qualy. I hope Button does get the jump on Vettel at the start. Hopefully a McLaren 1-2 today? Fingers crossed. Did anyone notice the new sponsor on Kliens car? Is that an inkling of things to come from him? Will he now be the full-time driver at HRT? Maybe even for next year??

  35. Racyboy says:

    I hope it’s a wet one for the simple fact that it’s never been seen before.

    F1 – street circuit – night time – rain

    …although I’d hate the race to be cut short, so maybe rain halfway through.

  36. John says:

    Hi James,
    Just wondered who you fancied to take victory tonight in Singapore? I feel like the Red Bulls will show their dominance in the race at least by passing during pitstops (wish the Singapore GP had more passing), or at least Vettel, who has never been short of speed, will. Think if he’s in 2nd place after the first corner, he will beat whomever is ahead of him through pit stops.

    I was curious about what you make of the Mclaren starts….is there a reason why they seem to start better than everyone else, while Red Bull can barely cling on? Button even hinted at this strength of theirs..

  37. David Hamilton says:

    James: what do you think teams will do about fuel if the race is a wet (like Wombat suggests in #32)?

    BBC red button mentioned earlier in the weekend that a wet race would most likely run to 2 hours rather than race distance, especially if there were any safety cars.

    Given the lower fuel consumption in the wet and the possibility of a shorter distance, how tempted would some teams be to ‘go aggressive’ on the fuel strategy?

  38. El Shish says:

    Interesting to see how the pressure is now making its presence felt in qualifying. Remember how at the beginning of the season the top 3-5 positions on the grid were dictated by laps recorded on the last laps of qualifying? Correct me if I’m wrong but that’s three races in a row now where the pole-winning lap has been set on a first run in q3 and has not been bettered. Seems the pressure is playing a part in drivers not being able to put a perfect lap together on the second run.

    Of the top three, only Alonso’s lap didn’t appear to feature some kind of obvious mistake or apparent imperfection. With that in mind, seems he and Hamilton should be fairly evenly matched in terms of pace. The Red Bulls, despite their struggles in Q3, seem to still be the outright quickest cars so, as long as Alonso or Hamilton can stay in front of Vettel at the start, we should be in for an almighty battle and a cracking race.

  39. Wombat says:

    Its been dry, sunny and hot all day with a good breeze.
    The track is as dry as it gets in Singapore I suspect.
    And the forecast rain is holding off.
    So the track is some seconds faster than at any time in practice I suspect and the confidence should return to all drivers.
    Who will be on top now?
    IF the Red Bulls get grip at the start – it will be Vettel then a big gap to whoever gets second.
    Lets hope Mark Webber gets a decent start.

  40. Lewis Jones says:

    My race prediction: Nando and Vettel to clash at Turn 1, leading to one or both needing to pit stop early, Lewis to bin it into the wall if it rains, leaving Jenson to take the flag, with Mark in 2nd!

  41. danish Hanif says:

    magic Alonso !!! Win with a slower car, double pole, fastest lap and WINs, bring on japan ….

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