September 21st, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Nico Rosberg came within a tenth of a second of taking pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix, but ultimately could not beat the stunning lap time produced early in Q3 by Sebastian Vettel. Rosberg will start the race from second on the grid, his fifth front row start this season. Rosberg's team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, had a less successful qualifying session and will start the race fifth.
Rosberg said after qualifying, "We've had a really good weekend so far and have been able to improve the car from session to session with some great work from my engineers and mechanics so my thanks to them. It was so close to beating Sebastian to pole this evening but I'm still really happy to have achieved second place."
At a street circuit like Marina Bay in Singapore, overtaking is generally very difficult, which makes a strong grid position crucial, as Rosberg confirmed: "It's so important to start from the front here so we are in a very good position for the race."
Mercedes have not looked quite as quick as Red Bull throughout the weekend, but nonetheless have shown reasonable pace during practice. Rosberg expressed his expectations for the race: "Our race pace was strong on Friday so I'm feeling quite confident for tomorrow evening. I doubt if we have enough performance to beat Sebastian but I'll do my best to have a good start and then we'll see how it goes from there."
Lewis Hamilton is targeting the podium from fifth on the grid. He is mathematically in with a chance of taking the 2013 Drivers' Championship, but will have to take points off championship leader Sebastian Vettel quite aggressively from here on. From fifth on the grid, however, his chances of beating Vettel without the Red Bull driver running into mechanical issues are slim. Hamilton said after Saturday's action:
"Qualifying didn't quite come together for me this evening. I tried my best out there but I just didn't have a great feeling in the car and ultimately I wasn't fast enough. Clearly the car was quicker than what I was able to get out of it tonight so, of course, it's frustrating not to have qualified closer to the front as Nico did. So not a good day for me but that's life. We'll turn today's negative into a positive overnight and I'll be pushing as hard as I can in the race tomorrow. There are still people ahead of me that we can beat and our target will be to get on the podium, that would be amazing."