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GP Week : Issue 190
One run was all it took for sebastian Vettel to lock away pole – and save a set of super soft tyres for business day. The final practice session of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend passed without incident, and was notable only for the slightly reduced gap between the all-conquering Red Bulls and the rest of the field. Sebastian Vettel held on to the top slot on the timesheets, chased by Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg. Mark Webber followed in fourth, while Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top five. But where Friday saw Red Bull light years ahead of the competition, FP3 ended with the top six drivers covered by one second (and some very small change), while the gap between Vettel and Grosjean was just shy of two-tenths. As qualifying started under the glittering lights that line the Marina Bay Circuit Hamilton was an early pacesetter but Rosberg was faster, and halfway through Q1 it was the Mercedes pair who led the pack while Vettel and Webber remained safely ensconced in the Red Bull garage. Once out on track the Red Bull pair were instantly towards the top end of the timesheets, and at no risk of early elimination from qualifying, while with two minutes remaining the danger zone was made up of the driver pairings from Caterham, Marussia, and Force India. As times fell to mark the end of the session, it was Pastor Maldonado and di Resta who found themselves in the dropout zone with the four usual suspects, while decent but unimpressive times from Vettel and Webber spoke of tyre conservation tactics from the Red Bull pit wall. Kimi Raikkonen was the first man to set a time in Q2, despite concerns that a trapped nerve might prevent the Finn from running in the second session. With less than five minutes remaining only Vettel, Webber, and Grosjean were out on track, the only three drivers yet to set a time. Vettel went straight to the top of the timesheets on his only Q2 lap, with a 1m42.905s lap that was eight- tenths faster than Webber’s effort. As the clock counted down to mark the end of Q2, the dropout zone was comprised of Nico Hulkenberg, Jean-Eric Vergne, Raikkonen, Perez, Sutil, and Bottas. Breaking with the pattern established in the first two sessions, Red Bull sent both drivers out on track in short order, with a tyre bounty to use in the unlikely event that the RB9 is not the fastest machine by a country mile. But Vettel went straight to the top with a comfortable six-tenths margin over Rosberg in P2. Button, Massa, Alonso, Gutierrez, and Ricciardo had yet to set times with two-and-a -half minutes remaining. As expected, Vettel had no competition for pole, didn't even make a sedond run, and Saturday’s qualifying session laid the groundwork for a fairly processional race on Sunday. On the following pages, Trent Price takes a closer look at the incidents that shaped the 2013 Singapore Grand Prix, from the tyre strategies gone wrong at Sauber and McLaren to the ever-present Marina Bay Safety Car and beyond... QUALIFYING 1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m42.841s 2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m42.932s 3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1m43.058s 4. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1m43.152s 5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m43.254s 6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1m43.890s 7. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1m43.938s 8. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1m44.282s 9. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 1m44.439s 10. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) NO TIME SET 11. Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber) 1m44.555s 12. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1m44.588s 13. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 1m44.658s 14. Sergio Perez (McLaren) 1m44.752s 15. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1m45.185s 16. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1m45.388s 17. Paul di Resta (Force India) 1m46.121s 18. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1m46.619s 19. Charles Pic (Caterham) 1m48.111s 20. Giedo v d Garde (Caterham) 1m48.320s 21. Jules Bianchi (Marussia) 1m48.830s 22. Max Chilton (Marussia) 1m48.930s ONE IS ENOUGH ... THE GRID 31 GPWEEK.com // 31 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> SINGAPORE