Alonso lights up Singapore GP qualifying
McLaren
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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1

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

2

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!

3

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.

4

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.

5

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?

6

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..

7

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.

8

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??

9

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).

10

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.

11

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.

12

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.

13

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?

14

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.

15

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

16

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 ???

17

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

18

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.

20

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!

21

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!

22

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!

23

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 🙂

24

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.

25

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.

26

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

27

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.

28

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.

29

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!

30

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.

31

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

32

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 🙂

33

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

34

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?

35

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.

36

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)

37

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

38

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.

39

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

40

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…

41

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.

42

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….

43

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).

44

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

45

Thats what people say in malaysia hehe

46

FAN TAS TIC !!!

47

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

48

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.

49

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

50

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

51

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.

52

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?

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