Saturday, 20 September 2014

Singaporean Qualifying: Gaps closing as night falls...

On the floodlit streets of Singapore, the usual hierarchy threatened to be disposed of, as teams who have shown weakness and lack of pace, through the first half of the season, delivered fantastic performances. As we approached the final top ten shootout, things appeared to settle down, but Q1 was certainly dramatic. The Ferrari's looked very strong, whilst Gutierrez, in the Sauber, spent a short time in second place and Force India's Hulkenberg held pole for a time. Whether it was simply a case of tyre differences or the track gradually rubbering in, the first session of qualifying was uncharacteristically exciting.
Both Q2 and Q3 were as predictable as ever, but the third session threatened to throw everything in to disarray. Both Hamilton and Rosberg deserve credit for pulling out all the stops in the closing minutes of the top ten shootout, because both of them had struggled throughout the weekend. It was revealed that Mercedes had new brakes, coming to Singapore, and in fairness that was glaringly obvious. Rosberg over shot one of the corners, after a lock up in the first few moments of Q1, which was uncharacteristic for Nico, at least at that stage of a qualifying session. Lewis also locked up a few times, the rear end of his race car looking very loose.

Ferrari might might show some good pace during the race, because with Raikonnen's engine problem, right near the end of Q3, we may have been robbed of a challenge to Mercedes, who eventually locked out the front row. It certainly feels like the chasers are closing in on the Silver Arrows, even though they won't be able to make a dent in their Championship lead, this late on. One promising aspect of qualifying, was the impression that the cars were all struggling for grip, around the twenty-four turns of the Singaporean street circuit. With it's treacherously placed walls, the race promises some costly mistakes, with so few stages of the season remaining and the competition hotting up.

The Grid:
144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:46.9211:46.2871:45.68117
26Nico RosbergMercedes1:47.2441:45.8251:45.68819
33Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing-Renault1:47.4881:46.4931:45.85412
41Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault1:47.4761:46.5861:45.90215
514Fernando AlonsoFerrari1:46.8891:46.3281:45.90716
619Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1:47.6151:46.4721:46.00020
77Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:46.6851:46.3591:46.17014
877Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1:47.1961:46.6221:46.18718
920Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1:47.9761:46.7001:46.25018
1026Daniil KvyatSTR-Renault1:47.6561:46.9261:47.36221
1122Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1:47.1611:46.94312
1225Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Renault1:47.4071:46.98914
1327Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1:47.3701:47.30813
1421Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1:47.9701:47.3339
1511Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1:48.1431:47.57513
168Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1:47.8621:47.81214
1799Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1:48.3246
1813Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1:49.0638
1917Jules BianchiMarussia-Ferrari1:49.4407
2010Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1:50.4058
214Max ChiltonMarussia-Ferrari1:50.4737
229Marcus EricssonCaterham-Renault1:52.2875