Motorsport

Vettel on pole in Singapore

2011-09-24 17:12
Sebastian Vettel (File)
Singapore - Championship-chasing German Sebastian Vettel nabbed his 11th pole position of the season on Saturday as his powerful Red Bull team secured a front-row lockout for the Singapore Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old dominated the floodlit night session as Red Bull extended their supremacy with a 14th successive pole, a 100 percent record that gives Vettel a good chance to retain his title in the 61-lap race on Sunday.

His Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber was second fastest thanks to a last-gasp lap of a competitive and tense session that featured a red flag interruption, accidents and punctures at the steamy Marina Bay circuit.

Spaniard Alonso qualified fifth for Ferrari behind the two McLarens of Britons Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, the 2009 and 2008 champions respectively, who will line up in third and fourth places on the grid.

Vettel's pole was the 26th of his career as he seeks to become the youngest double champion in Formula One history - a feat he can achieve if he wins in Singapore and nearest rival Fernando Alonso fails to finish on the podium along with his other challengers.

Vettel was in such a strong qualifying position that he could afford to ease off and not deliver a second hot lap.

"I decided to abort my second run when I made a mistake because it is very easy to damage the car so I went wide," explained Vettel, whose hands could be seen shaking with adrenalin as he stepped gingerly out of his car afterwards.

"I was quite happy with my first lap. I think the circuit ramped up at the end and I think it was possible to go faster, but I'm very happy.

"It's a very difficult track with such a long lap to get everything right. I think we learned from our mistakes that we made last year."

Cryptic Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said they were not even thinking about titles or celebrations.

"The moon and stars have got to line up. We haven't booked anything for a party should we win. We're focused on the race."

Webber, who jumped from fourth to second with his final flying lap, will be expected to "drive shotgun" for Vettel in Sunday's race, protecting his team-mate from attack if they succeed in controlling the pace at the front. The Australian said: "I'm happy. It's been a very testing venue for me in the past.

"Sebastian laid it down pretty hard and fast. Obviously he was very quick. I'm satisfied given the curved ball teams can face at this track. Both cars are up there -- so for us, it's a great result."

Alonso's Ferrari team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa was sixth ahead of German Nico Rosberg and his Mercedes team-mate and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, 42.

Another German, Adrian Sutil, was ninth for Force India, one place ahead of his team-mate Briton Paul di Resta.

On another steaming hot night, the qualifying session began at 10:00pm local time under dazzling floodlights with the temperature hovering around 32 degrees Celsius and 67 percent humidity.

If it was taxing for a sell-out 75 000 crowd - the spectators perspiring around Marina Bay - it was a harsh test of fitness for the drivers and their teams.

The tough conditions and need for front end grip soon saw the Renault team struggling at the wrong end of the time-sheets as Brazilian Bruno Senna and Russian Vitaly Petrov scrapped to survive into Q2.

In the end, Senna surged through, but Petrov failed to make it and was top of those who failed to make the cut - the first Renault driver this year not to reach the second mini-session.

Japanese Kamui Kobayashi lost his Sauber car over the kerbs in the chicane and flew into barriers, providing more drama as qualifying approached its climax.

His airborne exit ended his session and brought out the red flags with nine minutes remaining, in which Hamilton, out on soft tyres to secure his passage to the shootout, had to come in with a rear left puncture.

The starting grid for Sunday's Grand Prix following the final qualifying sessions on Saturday:

1st row
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)

2nd row
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)

3rd row
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari)

4th row
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Michael Schumacher (GER/Mercedes)

5th row
Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes)
Paul di Resta (SCO/Force India-Mercedes)

6th row
Sergio Perez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari)
Rubens Barrichello (BRA/Williams-Cosworth)

7th row
Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Cosworth)
Sébastien Buemi (SWI/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)

8th row
Bruno Senna (BRA/Lotus-Renault)
Jaime Alguersuari (ESP/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)

9th row
Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber-Ferrari)
Vitaly Petrov (RUS/Lotus-Renault)

10th row
Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/Team Lotus)
Jarno Trulli (ITA/Team Lotus)

11th row
Timo Glock (GER/Virgin-Cosworth)
Jérôme d'Ambrosio (BEL/Virgin-Cosworth)

12th row
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Hispania-Cosworth)
Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA/Hispania-Cosworth)

NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • SS3
    Wed, 30 Jul 2014 @
    04:00
  • SS4
    Wed, 30 Jul 2014 @
    05:00
  • SS5
    Wed, 30 Jul 2014 @
    05:59
  • SS7
    Wed, 30 Jul 2014 @
    06:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 
 
Featured Blog

Dave ask if you would like to meet your local sports heroes and stand the chance to win prizes to the value of over R40 000.

Latest blogs
Vote

Hypothetically, given the same cars to drive, who is the most talented current Formula One driver in your opinion?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.