September 21st, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Sebastian Vettel has continued his dominance of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend by taking pole position for Sunday's race. Nico Rosberg will line up alongisde Vettel on the front row, with Romain Grosjean third for Lotus.
Such was his confidence in Q3, Vettel decided not to do a second run after setting a single lap time in the early part of the session. In the final two minutes, however, Vettel's nerves were tested when Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean all set stunning sector times on their final flying laps. In the end, no-one could quite match Vettel's time and he held on to pole position.
Q1, the first part of qualifying, went according to the pattern that has been well set throughout the season. Both Marussias and both Caterhams were eliminated, along with the Williams of Pastor Maldonado and the Force India of Paul Di Resta. Given the large difference in performance (about 2 seconds per lap) between the two tyre compounds, it was an interesting illustration of confidence by the two Red Bulls and Romain Grosjean that they did not feel the need to use the quicker supersoft tyre in Q1, but instead set their Q1 t imes on the medium tyres.
The major surprise of the qualfiying session came in Q2, when Kimi Raikkonen was eliminated. Raikkonen has been struggling with back pain throughout the day, and required an injection for the pain before qualifying started. He was unable to find the same sort of performance as Grosjean in the other Lotus and ended up qualifying 13th, just ahead of the second McLaren of Sergio Perez.
Along with Raikkonen and Perez, the other drivers eliminated in Q2 were Hulkenberg, Sutil, Vergne and Bottas.
Q3 saw just six drivers go out when the light turned green. Vettel set what would ultimately become the pole time, while Rosberg, Webber, Hamilton and Grosjean set times that they would later beat on another set of supersoft tyres. Jenson Button went out on a set of medium tyres, presumably to check something on the car or perhaps just to get himself up to speed.
All six returned to the pits after their first runs, although Button had yet to set a time, and then all of the top ten, barring Vettel, went out for a second run in Q3. Mark Webber set a fastest first sector on his lap, while Nico Rosberg and then Romain Grosjean set fastest middle sectors on their laps, but none of the drivers could quite put a lap together well enough to beat Vettel's early time.
Vettel was watching in the Red Bull garage, visibly nervous when he saw the sector times that were being set in his absence. But it was too late for him to rejoin the track and he could do nothing but hope that he would not be beaten. In the end, his time stood and he will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole position.
Fernando Alonso, Vettel's main title rival, qualified seventh, behind his team-mate, Felipe Massa. Alonso will have his work cut out to challenge Vettel in Sunday's race, particularly as Massa has made it clear that he does not intend to help Alonso now that Massa is out of a drive at Ferrari after the season ends.
Full results from qualifying:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:45.376||1:42.905||1:42.841||11|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:45.271||1:43.727||1:43.152||12|
|15||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:45.960||1:45.185||14|
|17||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:46.121||8|
|20||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||1:48.320||6|
|Q1 107% Time||1:51.489|