Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg has dominated qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix, finishing over half a second clear from Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. The German was the only driver to register a time in the 1:42’s, well clear of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Q1 was a disaster for Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel, who will start from last on the grid after a broken front anti-roll bar. Vettel was clearly frustrated, considering that Mercedes don’t appear to have the pace to utterly dominate the weekend as they have all year. Due to the nature of the Singapore street circuit, Sunday evening figures to be a long one for the four time world champion.
With Vettel dropping out in Q1, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson survived into Q2 but could only stay in 16th position, two seconds off Grosjean in 15th. Q2 ended in a flurry, with Jenson Button’s McLaren clipping a wall and stopping on track with broken steering. Moments later, Haas’ Romain Grosjean spun off at turn 10 and collided heavily with the barrier.
Rosberg opened up Q3 with a 1:42.584, and no one ever really threatened that time in the next 10 minutes. Ricciardo’s 1:43.115 pushed Lewis Hamilton off the front row of the grid, who was having issues with tire temperature. Young Max Verstappen bemoaned his car’s braking issues as he couldn’t out pace his teammate or Hamilton’s Mercedes.
The sole Ferrari in Q3, Kimi Raikkonen will start on the 3rd row of the grid, after a poor final lap cost him any chance of surpassing Verstappen or Hamilton. The very impressive Toro Rosso duo of Sainz and Kvyat were next in 6th and 7th and will be looking to hold those positions in tomorrow’s race.
As was expected, both Force India’s outpaced the Williams’ of Massa and Bottas. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will start from 8th and 10th respectively, whilst Bottas and Massa will fill up the 6th row of the grid. Fernando Alonso also had a strong run in the McLaren, sneaking into the top 10 in the last moments of Q2, he’ll start 9th.
On such a tight, technical track, and with limited overtaking opportunities, the start will be critical. Hamilton’s World Championship lead has shrunk down to 2 points over the last few races, and if Rosberg wins tonight he’ll retake the championship lead. They key for the Briton will be a strong start to propel himself ahead of the Red Bulls and put himself in the range of Rosberg.
Whatever the result, the Singapore GP promises to be one of the more visually dazzling Grand Prix on the calendar, with serious championship implications.