Singapore Qualifying – Alonso snatches crucial pole for Ferrari

Fernando Alonso repeated his Monza pole position in Singapore on Saturday night as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel failed to recover completely from a poor first run in Q3. A track that remained damp and slippery in places kept everyone on their toes.

Alonso lapped in 1m 45.390s on his first run in that final session, and though he did not improve on that on his second it remained good enough to keep him ahead of Vettel. The German moved from seventh fastest on 1m 47.937s after his first run to second in 1m 45.457s, edging McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton off the front row. The Englishman did 1m 45.571s on his first run, then failed to improve.

Both McLaren’s Jenson Button and Red Bull’s Mark Webber went quicker on their second runs. The Australian momentarily moved to fourth with 1m 45.977s before the Englishman took back the place with 1m 45.944s. Thus the five championship contenders start from the first five positions…

Williams’ Rubens Barrichello’s first-run 1m 46.236s stood up for sixth, ahead of Nico Rosberg’s 1m 46.443s for Mercedes GP, Robert Kubica’s 1m 46.593s for Renault and Michael Schumacher’s 1m 46.702s for Mercedes GP. Kamui Kobayashi was 10th for BMW Sauber on 1m 47.884s.

Jaime Alguersuari’s good weekend form continued all the way through to Q2, when he just failed to get into Q3 by a tenth of a second in the Toro Rosso. He lines up 11th on 1m 47.666s, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg who lapped his Williams in 1m 47.674s. However, the German drops to 17th because of a gearbox change.

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was 13th on 1m 48.165s despite spinning early in Turn Five and clipping the wall with his right rear wheel, then came Sebastien Buemi in the second Toro Rosso on 1m 48.502s, Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber on 1m 48.557s and the Force Indias of Adrian Sutil on 1m 48.899s and Tonio Liuzzi, who missed the chicane on his first run and improved to 1m 48.961s right at the end.

Q1 took out the usual suspects, with one notable exception.

Timo Glock has had Lotus tucked up most of the weekend and was the fastest of the new teams in his Virgin VR-01, with 1m 50.721s, but right at the end Heikki Kovalainen banged in a respectable 1m 50.915s so they were 18th and 19th. Lucas di Grassi was next for Virgin with 1m 51.107s, leaving Lotus’s Jarno Trulli 21st on 1m 51.641s. Christian Klien was the faster HRT driver with 1m 52.946s, while Bruno Senna spun in Turn Five trying to better 1m 54.174s.

The notable exception was poor Felipe Massa. With 10 minutes of Q1 still to go he brought out the red flag when his Ferrari stopped in Turn Eight on its out lap, before he had even recorded a time. His race could not thus have got off to a worse start. The Italian team believe it was caused by a gearbox problem, but are understood to have elected to change the engine in his F10 as a precaution.