Qualifying - Vettel takes dominant pole in Singapore

Red Bull’s racers will start the Singapore race from the front row, after Sebastian Vettel set the pace throughout qualifying and Mark Webber deposed McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages.

The final session began with a minor territorial dispute between Hamilton and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa on their out laps, the Englishman then initially beating team mate Jenson Button and Webber for fastest time with 1m 44.809s to 1m 44.928s and 1m 45.378s, before Vettel deposed him by half a second with 1m 44.381s. Massa aborted his run.

Hamilton’s chances were eroded when he was unable to make a second run due to a fuelling problem. He had to sit in the pits and watch as Webber moved to second with 1m 44.732s and Button beat his time by a fraction with 1m 44.804s. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso only just failed to make fourth place, with 1m 44.874s.

Massa did just one run for 1m 45.800s and sixth place, while Nico Rosberg on 1m 46.013s was the only other runner to get a time. Mercedes team mate Michael Schumacher got out too late, and the Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta didn’t bother to venture out as their management opted to conserve tyres.

Q2 was brought to a temporary halt almost immediately after Kamui Kobayashi aviated over the Turn 10 kerbs and smacked his Sauber into the outer wall. When it resumed, Vettel quickly went ahead with 1m 44.931s, half a second clear again of Button and Webber, as a right-rear puncture prevented Hamilton from completing a lap likely to have put him second. He finished eighth instead, but was comfortably ahead of the Force Indias.

Right at the end Sauber’s Sergio Perez bumped Di Resta with 1m 47.616s, but the Scot was on a lap too, and immediately took the final Q3 place back with 1m 47.486s.

The Mexican was thus the first of the second batch, ahead of the Williamses of Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado on 1m 48.082s and 1m 48.270s respectively. Then came Sebastien Buemi on 1m 48.634s for Toro Rosso, Bruno Senna on 1m 48.662s for Renault, and Jaime Alguersuari on 1m 48.862s in the second STR06. Kobayashi will line up 17th with no time.

Vettel headed Q1 by half a second from Button, with Hamilton and Alonso close behind, but further back a late improvement put Senna into 15th place and Q2 at the expense of Renault team mate Vitaly Petrov. The Russian was thus the first faller, in 18th place, on 1m 49.835s. The Renault-powered Lotuses of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli followed him with 1m 50.948s and 1m 51.012s respectively, ahead of a tight battle between the Virgins and the HRTs.

Timo Glock bounced ahead of the Spanish cars right at the end with 1m 52.154s for 21st, as did Jerome d’Ambrosio for 22nd with 1m 52.363s. That left Daniel Ricciardo 23rd on 1m 52.404s, and Tonio Liuzzi last on 1m 52.810s. The Italian in any case has a five-place grid penalty from Monza.