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GP Week : Issue 210
QUALIFYING team-mate, Vettel was less happy: "I'm not happy with that final lap, I was pushing a bit too hard and didn't get it all together, so I'm not entirely happy, but it is what it is now. I think pole could have been in our grasp ...” Uh huh. Although fifth – where he’s ended up so often this year, Alonso was pretty upbeat about how much closer he was to pole than normal: "If you had told me yesterday that we would still be competitive in qualifying, probably I wouldn't have believed it. And in fact this fifth place is a bit different to usual, because the gap to pole is really small. “This weekend, I've felt comfortable right from the first session and probably much of that is down to the characteristics of the track. It's impossible to compare it to other races, because this one and Monaco are a law unto themselves.” The tough tale from qualifying was that of team-mate Raikkonen. For once, Kimi looked the biz here, led the times in P3 and had been fourth-fastest in the first run, Then, on his fresh set, disaster struck. What the team described as a ‘software issue’ struck on his out-lap and Kimi had to park it. His earlier lap was still good enough for seventh, but this could have well been Kimi’s day. As usual, The Kimster didn’t have a lot to say, but Pat Fry summed it up: “Kimi was comfortable with the car all weekend and we are sorry that he had a software problem on his final Q3 run, because he could definitely have got a better result. Fernando showed what he can do on this track and it's always a pleasure to see him at work. Like Kimi, he improved in every session, getting the most out of the package he had. “In free practice, we saw a significant performance difference between the two Pirelli compounds and I'm sure that will make the race particularly absorbing. Here in Singapore, an appearance from the Safety Car is almost guaranteed ...” After his headline first run in the session, it was Felipe Massa who split the Ferraris: “This has been a promising qualifying for us because we have made big improvements compared to yesterday and we are in the mix with the teams around us in the championship. What is really encouraging is that we identified the problem we had yesterday and the changes we made improved the car as we expected so a really good job by the team.” Like Hamilton, Bottas had made a small error at Turn 1 and eighth was less than he had hoped for, given the team’s overnight pace improvement, but he was relatively up-beat: “The mechanical set-up of the car has improved as the weekend has progressed and we have done a good job in getting the tyres into the right temperature window which we struggled with yesterday.” Having just squeaked into the 10, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat stayed there. In Kvyatt’s case, a significant lock-up at the hairpin by Jenson Button worked in his favour and kept both McLarens out of the top 10. Perhaps aware of the ongoing driver uncertainty, Jenson went to some trouble to explain how the front lock-up had happened: "During Q1 I'd already dialled the front wing settings up to their maximum and, as the circuit gripped-up into Q2, I struggled because I didn't have enough front-end [grip]. I did everything I could to compensate, by using the differential and engine braking, but it wasn't quite enough. “I haven't looked too deeply at the strategy for tomorrow yet, but hopefully the ability to choose our starting tyre will help us make some progress." With the significant two-second performance difference between the two tyres here, would Jenson take the obvious gamble and start on the slower rubber? That differential certainly promised an interesting Sunday evening in Singapore ... 2014 FORMULA 1TM SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX 61 LAPS ROUND 14/19 << Last Race – Italy Two Weeks Ago 1 Next Race – Japan >> Two Weeks’ Time 2014 FORMULA 1TM SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING CLASSIFICATION 1 – Lewis Hamilton takes his 6th pole of the 2014 season, which have been 3 sets of back-to-back poles (Australia/Malaysia, China/Spain and Italy/Singapore). It is also a 7th Mercedes front row lockout of the year, the 30th pole for Mercedes and their 60th front row start courtesy of Nico Rosberg, who starts from the same position as he did in 2013. Nobody has ever won the Singapore GP from an even-numbered grid position, but Rosberg only missed pole by 0.007s, the equivalent of 49 centimetres (1.6ft) at the line. 2 – Daniel Ricciardo outqualifies Sebastian Vettel for the first time since Germany, four races ago, while Vettel himself has his worst start in Singapore since he raced for Toro Rosso back in 2008. Fernando Alonso qualified 5th for the 5th time this year and the 34th time in his career, more than any driver in history (by contrast he only has 22 poles), while Felipe Massa starts 6th in Singapore for the 3rd time in the last 4 years here. 3 – Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen has his best Marina Bay start since 2008, and Ferrari have been quickest in 3 different sessions this weekend, compared to 4 in the rest of 2014 combined. Valtteri Bottas has his worst start since being eliminated in Q1 at Silverstone, and Kevin Magnussen reached Q3 for the 7th consecutive race. This is the closest grid of 2014, with 9th placed Magnussen only 0.569s away from pole. At Monza that same gap would have put him 3rd on the grid. 4 – Daniil Kvyat reached Q3 after being 11th in Q2 at the last 3 race weekends, while Jean-Eric Vergne, coincidentally, starts 12th for the 3rd straight weekend. This is only the 2nd time this year that there has been no Force India in the top-12 on the grid (after Spa, where both drivers ended up scoring). Esteban Gutierrez reached Q2 while his Sauber teammate Adrian Sutil was knocked out in Q1 for the 7th time in 2014. 5 – Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado failed to reach Q2 for the 11th time in 14 races this season, while Jules Bianchi is the quickest of the Marussia/Caterham train also for the 7th time in 2014. 28 GPWEEK.com // 28 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SINGAPORE PARTNERS: