41 And Was It Ever An Impressive 41…

We all had a pretty good idea that Sebastian Vettel would be on pole today. There was maybe a challenge from Lewis Hamilton, and Roman Grosjean, and a serious effort from Nico Rosberg, even Mark Webber showed he still cared about formula 1 for a split second. However the wunderkid did it again. Vettel, it is safe to say crushed the competition today under the lights while qualifying for the Singapore GP.

As has been the case for most of the last three seasons, when Red Bull and Vettel are in the zone they’re just untouchable.  Vettel secured his 41st pole, an amazing stat giving his race starts. One has to applaud  this irrespective of how one feels about him or the Red Bull juggernaut.

I know this post is way too late for most of you, but I felt compelled none the less. I am going to change it up on you just a bit and post the comments from our top ten in qualifying:

Note: the top three finishers comments are from the after qualifying  press conference:

Sebastian, biting your nails at the end there. You took the decision not to go out and do a final run. Does it sit comfortably with you, being a gambler?

Sebastian Vettel: Yeah. It’s a weird feeling. You stand in the garage when there’s roughly two minutes to go in the session and you know that it’s too late. But then it’s much worse when you see the others at the final attempt and you know there’s nothing you can do. Because you stand in the garage. I was watching the sector times very closely with obviously Romain, Nico and Mark in particular. Mark started with a purple sector one, very close in sector two, then Nico had a purple sector two, then Romain had a purple sector two. Then fortunately my last sector was strong enough to – yeah – just stay ahead. It was very close in the end with Nico. That’s a great feeling then, obviously, because it could go wrong but very happy obviously with the result. The car’s been phenomenal all weekend. Yesterday I think the gap was a bit of a surprise. Today’s been more what we expected – especially with Mercedes being very close behind.

The gap is a tenth of a second Nico. You’ve had the upper hand over your team-mate here but not quite over the Red Bulls…

Nico Rosberg: Yeah, unfortunately Sebastian especially has been really quick the whole weekend but it was very, very close in the end. A pity, because one tenth more, with the way they gambled in the last qualifying… One tenth more would have been possible somehow, y’know? That would have been great but anyway, second place is still a good result. A great result. And it gives me a good position to start the race tomorrow and I’m also very confident about our race pace. It’s looking OK so I think a great result is possible.

Romain, a confident decision from you in the first part of qualifying not to use the faster tyre. Were you feeling confident today?

Romain Grosjean: Well, I think the car’s been OK today. If we look at how many laps we did in the whole weekend so far, P3 in the quali is not too bad. We knew we were strong this morning. I think we got a little bit caught by the night coming on and it was a little bit less quick than the fast time we expected in Q1 but nevertheless I think the team did a good decision about the strategy and the cut-off and everything, so then we had two attempts in Q3. It’s good to be at the front in this grand prix.

Here are the rest of our top ten:

Mark Webber: “I’m a bit disappointed to be fourth. It’s quite tight and there were some good lap times being set. We’re on the second row, it would have been better to have been on the front row, but it’s a long race tomorrow and we can do something from there. We’ve got a very good race car. It was hard to match Seb in the last sector; he’s always been strong in Turns 20 and 21.”

Lewis Hamilton: “Qualifying didn’t quite come together for me this evening” said Lewis. “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.”

Felipe Massa: “Having struggled so much yesterday and in the third free practice session, today in qualifying, we finally managed to put together a good lap, completely changing the set-up on the car. Certainly the gap to the quickest cars is still big, but today, doing a time that is close to that of the Red Bulls or Mercedes was really difficult, partly because they have not suffered as much as us from a lack of grip and because we find ourselves on a high downforce circuit. I am expecting a difficult race because anything can happen here and tyre degradation is particularly high, even if I hope we have a good race pace and can be competitive. It’s tomorrow’s race that counts and we will do our utmost to improve our position in the championship. My effort over the next seven races will be the maximum, because I would like to end my time with Ferrari in the best way possible.”

Fernando Alonso: “Today’s result isn’t surprising because from the start of the season, on average, we have always started from between sixth and eighth place and then made up ground in the race, which we will try and do again tomorrow. The updates brought to this race have gained us a tenth of a second on our competitors, a result which matches our expectations. Even if the gap to the leader is still significant and the improvement might not be that evident, we cannot say our engineers have not put in the effort, because everyone has done a super job.

Jenson Button: “The car felt okay and I’d say it was a reasonable qualifying session for us. There’s still quite a bit of progress to be made, but we’ve been doing a lot of set-up work this weekend to improve the car and I’m happy about that. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow, so as to make the best of where we are. It’s likely to be an exciting race because the tyres are working in a very unusual way. As a result there are going to be a lot of different strategies, so it’ll be interesting to see how everyone get on. It’s going to be difficult to overtake the cars in front of us, but we’ll see what we can do. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s always a very tough race here, but that’s what we do all the training for.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “That was not an easy session and we had to work harder here to get to Q3 than we did in a few other races where we have managed it. I was a bit disappointed not to get a little bit more time out of my lap in Q3, with Jenson a couple of tenths ahead and it would have been nice to get that. So I think ninth is pretty good all things considered. As for the race, the guys who went out in Q2 might have a little bit of a tyre advantage, so let’s hope that doesn’t have too much influence tomorrow. We will race as hard as we can and hope to stay in the points.”

Esteban Gutierrez: “To qualify tenth is a really special feeling and one that I have missed. I enjoyed every part of the qualifying. The result today was very important, because it’s not fun going into qualifying knowing that you can be around the top ten, but not getting there. At the beginning, it looked a bit difficult today, but I was pushing myself in practice and communicated well with the team. We decided that, in order to make the next step, we need to be more aggressive and be more on the edge. During the practice sessions I was able to try to do that, and it’s great to see it paid off, so a big thank you to the team. I think tomorrow will be a tough race. Tyre degradation will be critical and we need to consider that. We usually have a good race pace and also had that in FP2 yesterday. I’m confident we can push for points tomorrow.”

Here is the rest of the grid, lets hope for an exciting and action packed race…

-jp- (oh I don’t have a quip, let’s just hope it does not end up a RedBull and Vettel shellacking)

Qualifying

Driver Teams Time
1 S Vettel (GER) Red Bull 1’42.841
2 N Rosberg (GER) Mercedes 1’42.932
3 R Grosjean (FRA) Lotus 1’43.058
4 M Webber (AUS) Red Bull 1’43.152
5 LC Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes 1’43.254
6 F Massa (BRA) Ferrari 1’43.890
7 F Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 1’43.938
8 J Button (GBR) McLaren 1’44.282
9 D Ricciardo (AUS) Toro Rosso 1’44.439
10 E Gutiérrez (MEX) Sauber
11 N Hülkenberg (GER) Sauber 1’44.555
12 JE Vergne (FRA) Toro Rosso 1’44.588
13 KM Räikkönen (FIN) Lotus 1’44.658
14 S Perez (MEX) McLaren 1’44.752
15 A Sutil (GER) Force India 1’45.185
16 V Bottas (FIN) Williams 1’45.388
17 P di Resta (GBR) Force India 1’46.121
18 P Maldonado (VEN) Williams 1’46.619
19 C Pic (FRA) Caterham 1’48.111
20 G van der Garde (NED) Caterham 1’48.320
21 J Bianchi (FRA) Marussia 1’48.830
22 M Chilton (GBR) Marussia 1’48.930

3 Comments on “41 And Was It Ever An Impressive 41…

  1. It wasn’t as impressive as the race. RedBull showed their hand this weekend. Knowing their car is sooo fast, they decided to sit out the end of qualifying. Ballsy but they knew. I wonder with the tracked rubbered a bit more how fast he really could have gone? Then in the race when they realized Ferrari are going for 2 stops they showed the world how they have been sitting in the weeds. In ten laps Vettel put over a 20 second lead on Rosberg. 20 SECONDS IN RACE TRIM! That’s 2 seconds per lap faster. That’s light years in F1. This car is a rocket and the rest of the field may as well trow in the towel now. Fernando drove an excellent race as usual and Massa (now driving for himself) showed how good he really is. Not as good (on options) as Alonso!(on primes)
    Let’s hope that next year is a bit of an equalizer????

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